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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

President Jonathan Suspends 2014 Budget Presentation

For the second time, President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended presentation of the Federal budget to the National Assembly.
No reason was given for the latest development but Daily Trust Newspaper has linked it with the wranglings in the ruling People's Democratic Party PDP.

The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has again forced President Goodluck Jonathan to put on hold the 2014 budget presentation scheduled for today.
This is coming after similar postponement of the budget presentation last week which was to take place on Tuesday.

Daily Trust had reported last week that the postponement was due to the crisis in the PDP with members of the new PDP prepared to boo Mr President in retaliation to a similar treatment meted their leaders on September 17 when the Kawu Baraje-led PDP visited leadership of the House.

Last week postponement was to buy time in order for Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other principal officers to tame the nPDP members not to embarrass Jonathan today.

However, after all has been set for the budget presentation today, indications emerged that Jonathan would not show up as the red carpet set for him as early as 8.am had been removed and the tight security checks relaxed at about 9:30.am.

Even before that, rumours were everywhere that Jonathan would not come, but all arrangements went on as planned as policemen and DSS officials stormed the National Assembly premises with sniffer dogs going round all the places.

Also, the seats set for Jonathan, Senate President and the Speaker were removed from the chambers of the House of Representatives, while some lawmakers who came into the chambers were seen going out one after the other.

With this development, cameramen and other photographers for both electronic and print media also found their way out of the chambers, indicating that Jonathan would not appear.

Subsequently, full scale activities resumed at about 10.am in the National Assembly premises. Even some of the staff who were barred from entry till 2.pm were allowed in to carry out their duties.

Daily Trust learnt that Jonathan had written to the leadership of the National Assembly, saying the budget presentation would be a futile efforts as the two chambers of the legislature differed on their approval of the oil benchmark proposed by Jonathan in the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).

Jonathan had proposed oil benchmark of $74 per barrel, but the Senate last Tuesday approved $76, while members of the House of Representatives approved $79 per barrel on Thursday, clearly showing disparity.

But a source told Daily Trust that despite the difference, Jonathan could have gone ahead to make the budget presentation to allow the lawmakers harmonize their position during its consideration.

As at the time of filing this report, there is no any official statement on the reason for Jonathan's non-appearance.

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