ABUJA â€” THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has thrown its weight behind the House of Representatives in its current face-off with the Senate over which chamber should host the President for the 2010 budget presentation.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali told newsmen yesterday that â€œtraditionally what happens is that budget presentation is often done in the House of Representatives because it is a larger place and then the Senate President presides over after the entire occasion the Speaker gives a vote of thanks.
This is a thing that is known by the Nigerian Constitution, the tradition and all countries where we have bicameral legislature. So, I donâ€™t think this should now take us backâ€
National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor had summoned the leadership of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives yesterday with a strong directive that the Senator David Mark-led Senate should allow for the presentation of the 2010 budget in the lower chambers.
Following the bickering existing between members of the National Assembly on venue for the presentation of the 2010 budget which halted the budget presentation by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to the joint session of the National Assembly yesterday, the national leadership of the party ordered that Senate President David Mark and speaker Dimeji Bankole should lead their men to the partyâ€™s headquarters in Abuja.
While David Mark led his team which comprised the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, among others, Speaker Bankole was at the Secretariat with Deputy Speaker Usman Nafada, House Leader, Tunde Akogun and House Whip, Emeka Ihedioha.
At the end of the meeting which lasted some hours, none of the principal officers spoke to Journalists. Bankole, Nafada, Akogun and Ihedioha saw the Senate President off as he drove off in the same car with Senator Folarin.
The Speaker and his men later went to where they parked their cars at the main entrance of the Secretariat shortly after the leadership of the Senate left through the National Chairmanâ€™s gate.
While his visitors left the Partyâ€™s Secretariat, the National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and his Deputy, Bello Mohammed Haliru immediately left for the Villa as they were said to have gone to brief the President on the outcome of the meeting.
Speaking with Journalists later, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Alkali who noted that the budget was on course, was not categorical on the date for the presentation by the president, just as he said that the leadership of the National Assembly would return to them after brainstorming on the discussions the party had with them.
According to Alkali, the tradition at the National Assembly is for the President to present the budget before the joint session at the House of Representatives chambers where the Senate President would preside, adding that for space, the House of Representatives Chambers ordinarily should be the venue while the Speaker moves the vote of thanks.
â€œAll I know is that all of us are students of history and students of politics and what you are saying is something that is not new because traditionally what happens is that budget presentation is often done in the House of Representatives because it is a larger place.â€
On why leadership of the party invited the National Assembly leaders, Alkali said, â€œthe party invited them because the President was scheduled for the formal presentation of the budget, but for one reason or the other, it could not hold. We were also expected to appear in the National Assembly to witness the presentation and since we learnt that it had been cancelled, we had to call them to know what is happening.â€
Answering question on the outcome of the meeting, the PDP spokesperson said, â€œthe simple thing is that there is a tradition, which is backed by the constitution and which is the Houses are well knowledgeable about and we are going to work on that line.
â€œWell, I will say first and foremost that there have been regular consultations with the leadership of the national assembly. This is not the first time, second time or third time that the party has reason to call them or they have reason to come to the secretariat to brief us on the progress in the National Assembly and matters arising thereof.
Therefore, it is a routine thing and the responsibility of the party to maintain close collaboration with them and we had very useful discussions with them and they have already gone back.â€
On who postponed the presentation, Alkali said, â€œI donâ€™t think it is at the instance of the President.
Why did they cancel it?
â€œThey have briefed us and we have asked them to go and put all those things in order so that the President can now present his budget.
What did you say they should put in order?
â€œI donâ€™t know what it is, but we do not see any reason why an important occasion like this should be put off.â€