By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A member of the Nigerian House of Representatives, has alleged that the boxes presented by the country’s President, Bola Tinubu to the joint session of the National Assembly, supposedly containing the 2024 budget, was indeed empty.
Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos State had on Wednesday presented a proposed N27.5 trillion appropriation bill for 2024, his first budget since his inauguration as the 16th President of the West African largest economy in May.
Hon. Yusuf Galambi, a member of the opposition New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) representing Gwaram Federal Constituency of Jigawa State in an interview with BBC Hausa Service on Friday, alleged that President Tinubu read out his budget speech including proposals for sectors, but did not give the lawmakers the documents as was the tradition by previous presidents.
President Tinubu said the 2024 appropriation bill, christened ‘Budget of Renewed Rope’ was designed to address economic growth, human capital development, poverty reduction and insecurity.
After reading his speech, he laid two boxes supposedly containing the budget documents and its details on the table in front of the presiding officers, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.
While accusing the President of deceit, Galambi said, “The President read out to us his speech on the proposed budget but we’ve not seen the document to work on.
“Of course, he read the estimates for the various sectors. But as it has always been the tradition, a document is always presented (to the lawmakers) but he (Mr Tinubu) didn’t do that,” he said.
When the BBC reporter insisted that the president was seen laying the “document”, Mr Galambi said when the lawmakers checked they couldn’t find anything in the boxes laid by Mr Tinubu.
“We’ve checked but there was nothing inside. We checked it. In the history of the National Assembly, this was the first time such a thing happened.
“The constitution has made it clear (that a document must be presented) but this time, it was only a reading on paper. They didn’t provide the document for us to go through and see what is proposed for each sector. Maybe they’ll bring it later,” Mr Galambi said.
The opposition lawmaker, who was first elected into the House in 2007, said the decision by Mr Tinubu to present empty boxes surprised the lawmakers because “we never expected it even in our wildest dreams.”
“If he (Mr Tinubu) was not ready, if the budget proposal was not ready to be presented, he shouldn’t have come and said he was done. We could have given him more time, why the haste? Why would he come and read something and even say he has kept it (document) when it’s empty,” he said.
The lawmaker alleged that the leaders of the National Assembly are covering up Mr Tinubu’s act of deceit.