Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A former senator and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Enugu State governorship candidate, Ayogu Eze, has condemned the actions of some National Assembly members during the presentation of the 2019 annual Budget by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, insisting that Nigerians demand apology from the legislators.
Eze, described as unprecedented for members of the National Assembly who pride themselves as the true representatives of the people to descend to a level where they left Nigerians with the difficult task of distinguishing between them and kindergarten delinquents.
He further argued that their actions had portrayed the hallowed chambers as a place where people serve only their selfish interest, stressing: “These are fathers and mothers of adults and children who were probably sitting in front of their television sets watching these unguarded conducts.
“How would they explain their behaviour on live television to their spouses and children? What examples were they setting for a nation that looks up to them for leadership,” Eze asked.
He quipped that legislators are usually allowed their idiosyncrasies but not in a manner that would desecrate the very institution whose integrity they were elected to protect.
He maintained that the National Assembly owes the people of Nigeria an apology for “this show of shame,” adding that nothing on earth can justify disrespecting the “president while performing one of his most sacred constitutional responsibilities of charting a course of how the ship of state would be moved in the next 12 months.”
He noted that the unfortunate thing is that the same people who are expected to process and pass the budget for the benefit of Nigerians were too preoccupied with their noisy chants to be able to listen to the details of the budget.
Eze further argued that “the net effect of this disruptive conduct will show during the budget defense and passage when the items in the budget would appear completely alien to most of them.”
He commended the president for his statesmanship and for not losing his cool even in the face of the uninvited provocation. He said: “The president’s poise and carriage portrayed him as a mature statesman, who even in the face of a very unfortunate situation did not lose his composure and confidence. It showed him as the leader Nigeria needs to navigate these turbulent times.”
While urging the President not to lose focus in his determination to reposition Nigeria to continue to play her leading role of serving as the engine of growth on the African continent, Sen. Eze tasked the lawmakers to always resist the temptation of allowing personal issues to becloud their sense of patriotism and nationalism, arguing that budget presentation is a solemn national assignment that no Nigerian should toy with.
“We know the legislature as the amphitheater of debate and reasoning but certainly not an arena to play to the gallery in the hope of hoodwinking the electorate into electing or re-electing us to our desired offices,” Eze said, adding: “We as legislators must always resist the temptation to descend to theatrics on the floor of the National Assembly no matter how hotly we feel about the issues in the polity.”
He also said it was worrisome for the legislators to disrespect their own leadership to the extend of disallowing them to speak on such an important occasion, even after disobeying the best efforts of the presiding officers to call them to order throughout the entire budget presentation, arguing that what they did was an indirect vote of no confidence in the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly.