2018 budget: Tension over Buhari’s joint address at the National Assembly holding today by 2pm

There is palpable tension at the National Assembly over President Muhammadu Buhari’s scheduled address of the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Buhari is expected to present the 2018 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly by 2pm today.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had read Buhari’s letter requesting a joint session of both chambers last Thursday.

Daily Sun gathered that some angry lawmakers, who have been spoiling for a showdown, want to use the opportunity of President Buhari’s address to embarrass the Presidency.

The grouse of the lawmakers, it was gathered, stemmed from the non-release of the 2016 and 2017 allocations for constituency projects of lawmakers.

It was gathered that the lawmakers said if President Buhari held on to their constituency allowance, they would not accord him the honour to address them in a joint session.

Sources said some of the lawmakers were mobilising to boo and heckle President Buhari or do any other thing that would embarrass him during the joint session.

Also, the lawmakers are threatening to suspend the consideration of the 2018 budget until the N200 billion budgeted for constituency projects in the 2016 and 2017 was released by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

But to forestall any ugly situation, Daily Sun learnt the President Buhari invited Saraki and Dogara to the Presidential Villa to persuade the two leaders to prevail on the lawmakers to shelve their planned protest during the presentation of the budget proposal.

Sources revealed that Buhari had contemplated postponing the presentation by about one week to allow key actors in the National Assembly meet with aggrieved lawmakers to resolve areas of differences.

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It was gathered that assurances from Saraki and Dogara that lawmakers would be persuaded to hold their peace, saved the day.

As part of effort to ensure that things go well, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, met with Saraki yesterday evening to also ensure that the National Assembly leadership prevailed on lawmakers no to do any things that would embarrass President Buhari or the government.

After the meeting, Saraki and Dogara met with principal officers of both chambers separately, while influential members in the House of Reps were contacted to prevail on their colleagues to calm down.

Daily Sun gathered that Saraki and Dogara also held other meetings yesterday to find a soft landing for President Buhari during the joint session.

A mild drama had played out on the floor of the House of Representatives last week when Dogara read notice of President Buhari’s planned appearance.

As soon as the Speaker finished his announcement, the lawmakers started shouting, “no,” to show their displeasure with the request for a joint session with the Senate.

Dogara had stressed in his intervention that lawmakers could not stop the president from addressing the joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“I wish we have the constitutional right to say no. But unfortunately, we don’t have it. This House is the custodian of the constitution. The president has the right,” Dogara had said.

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