Budget: Buhari Arrives N’Assembly As Reps Debate Dogara’s birthday

Tuesday’s presentation of the 2016 budget estimates to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari did not go without a dramatic twist when the President surprised Senators and members of the House of Representatives with his timely arrival for the event.

The lawmakers were busy exchanging banter, strolling from row to row to greet themselves when Buhari suddenly walked into the chamber with the Vice-President, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, following very close behind.

Some members were seen dashing to their seats while others stood by any available seat to honour the President as he walked past.

Buhari had specifically requested to present the budget to a joint session of the National Assembly at 10am.

The President arrived at the premises of the legislative building at exactly 10am and by 10.01am, he was already in the chamber of the House of Representatives, the venue of the ceremony, giving the lawmakers a little time to be orderly.

The drama could be blamed largely on members of the House of Representatives, who kept dashing to the seat of the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, to make frequent consultations while time ticked away.

Besides, they chose the occasion to mark Dogara’s birthday.

The House had resumed sitting by 9am in a bid to treat a few items, including the passing of the 2015 Appropriation Amendment Bill, before receiving Buhari.

But, on entering the chamber, they abandoned the issues on their agenda and chose first to celebrate the Speaker by moving a motion to mark his 48th birthday on the floor.

Three lawmakers, Mr. Herman Hembe, Mr. Mohammed Wudil and Mr. Hassan Saleh, spent nearly 15 minutes of the time arguing and moving counter motions on how to mark the speaker’s birthday.

As time ticked away towards 10am, they were still busy insisting that they would sing for Dogara while the speaker would respond in his mother tongue.

The birthday song was eventually taken but Dogara opted to respond in English on the grounds that it was the country’s official language.

Senators, who apparently had been waiting at the entrance to join the Reps ahead of Buhari’s arrival, got information that the President had arrived and hurried into the chamber of the House.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, led his colleagues into the chamber without waiting for the House to suspend its rules as had been the tradition.

Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Mr. Oker Jev, was halfway into a motion on the 2015 amendment bill when the senators arrived at the green chamber.

A shocked Dogara tried to complain that the senators obstructed proceedings with their manner of entry, but his complaint drowned in the loud exchange of banter, hugs and shouts of excitement by most of the lawmakers.

It was in the middle of the disorder that Buhari walked in, catching the lawmakers off-guard.

There was more drama after the budget session ended and Buhari and the senators had left the chamber.

Members of the House began complaining to Dogara that they had not received bank alerts for their salaries and allowances.

They tried to oppose a move by Dogara to adjourn the House by shouting, “no alerts yet”; “please, we need the alerts.”

The Speaker had to calm their nerves by speaking reassuringly that the alerts would reach them on Wednesday (today).

“I assure you that by Wednesday, you will receive a message and it will be a good message. I wish you all Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year ahead,” he added.

He adjourned the House till January 12 amid grumbling by his colleagues.

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