OrderPaperToday – The presentation of the 2021 budget proposal by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday was not without some sights and sounds and other incidences of note.
At arrival at the gate of the National Assembly complex, security agents were heavily present, checking each vehicle and person for the authorized entry tag.
On getting to the entrance that leads to both chambers, a scanning device, which is not usually stationed there, was installed to check for prohibited items.
After the mandatory security checks—a measure stricter than on previous days, there was another group of armed men located at strategic positions of the chamber. Needless to add that there was strict observance of covid-19 protocols within the complex.
The Senate commenced its plenary at about 10:35am and approved the votes and proceedings of the previous day’s meeting. Some bills slated for first reading were promptly taken, followed by the laying of petitions. Thereafter, the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, moved a motion for senators to join members in the House of Representatives for the big occasion of the day – the 2021 budget presentation.
Minutes later, Senators strolled into the green chamber as security officials, members of the press and staff of the National Assembly flocked the gallery awaiting the arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari.
At about 11:03am, Buhari walked into the sprawling complex with his entourage of security operatives and other officials in the presidency. Using the basement, he emerged into the green chamber, a special arrangement different from the main doors. Needless to say that by this time the green chamber was already populated by senators; members of the House; and authorised management staff of the National Assembly.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, commenced the ceremony by asking a senator to give a Christian prayer while the Muslim prayer was done by a member of the House of Representatives.
Lawan then read his speech and invited Buhari to give his address on the budget presentation.
As witnessed in the previous year, the President coughed twice before presenting his speech, a development which made some lawmakers chuckle. A somewhat replica of same sights and sounds of previous budget presentations.
Midway into his presentation, while reading the allocations under statutory transfer, he got to the allocation of the National Assembly and paused. Picked up the sentence but then repeated “National Assembly,” forcing some subdued laughter from legislators.
The President smiled and mentioned the sum of N128 billion, a figure which did not seem to impress his hosts. The President finished his presentation at 12:13pm.
The event closed with remarks from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The President, while exiting the chamber at 12:26pm also through the basement, waved at bystanders struggling to catch a glimpse of him. Shouts of “sai baba! Sai baba!” escorted him into his waiting car outside.