A member of the House of Representatives and one of the spokespersons of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Nnena Ukeje, has given some insight into why President Muhammadu Buhari was ‘booed’ during the presentation of the 2019 budget on Wednesday.
According to her, instead of addressing the National Assembly as the President of the country, President Buhari’s mannerisms rather appeared as though he was merely speaking as the flagbearer for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
She said this when she made an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday.
According to her, with an already heated polity, the Presidency ought to have taken a cue from former President Goodluck Jonathan, who during his time, delegated the assignment of presenting the budget to a “less contentious character”.
She explained, “When Mr President walked into the hallowed chambers (I’ve watched Mr President campaign a lot of the time) and I find that as he balls his fist, there’s this frenzied response from his supporters.
“As Mr President walked into the House of Representatives on that day to present the policy statement of the country for the next year, Mr President clenched his fist and raised his hand. From that moment, in the eyes of some of my colleagues, he transcended from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the APC flagbearer and of course, the situation got very heated.
“In a country that is as divided as Nigeria, the polity is so heated up, we saw the same things happen in 2015 when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was supposed to come and present his budget.
“You will recall that at that time, we had a very active opposition, almost militant opposition and they had said they were not going to allow President Goodluck Jonathan, come into the National Assembly to deliver the budget.
“What we did in the PDP at the time was engage with the president and say that it was a potentially violent environment and the APC opposition had said they would do everything to stop him from presenting the budget.
“Now, what we did was go back and look into the constitution and the fact that even though it had become customary for Mr President to deliver the budget, the President was still allowed to delegate his duties.
“Under advisement, the president decided at the time to look for a less contentious character and he decided to ask the Minister of Economy at the time, Okonjo Iweala to come before the National Assembly and deliver the budget”.
Speaking of the chances of the PDP, winning the presidential election after its previous 16-year-rule, Ukeje said she was confident that the party stood a better chance.
According to her, “APC has run out of ideas and the PDP comes with fresh new ideas that will give the country hope in the direction that we must go”.
When asked “should Nigerians trust your party”, she stated, “There was a referendum on the PDP and that referendum was in 2015.
“In 2015 Nigerians voted overwhelmingly to remove the PDP from government and that is the beautiful thing about democracy.
“Democracy is self-correcting and the PDP came out and then everybody said we will vote for the APC because we were tired of the PDP and it was legitimate.
“Nigerians went out and voted the APC. Now that referendum is done.
“This is three years down the line and there’s a new referendum and the questions remain, do you sleep better at night, do you feel safer in Nigeria, is your life better today, are you hungrier, is there better healthcare, can you say to your children, that there is hope?
“If they say that a government is as good as its people, I think it is time for the Nigerian people to ask themselves one question, is my life better today than it was four years ago?”