2024 Budget: Presidency speaks on Tinubu presenting “empty” boxes to National Assembly

The presidency has reacted to the allegation that its principal, President Bola Tinubu, presented empty boxes of next year’s budget to the combined session of lawmakers at the national assembly on Wednesday.

According to the president, the N27.5 trillion proposal christened ‘Budget of Renewed Rope’, was designed to address economic growth, human capital development, poverty reduction and insecurity.

After reading his budget speech, Mr Tinubu bowed and laid two boxes, which had the Nigerian flag colours of green-white-green, before the lawmakers, as was the protocol.

Both chambers read the budget for the first time on Wednesday after its presentation, before the appropriation bill separately scaled the second readings at both chambers of the legislative arm of government on Friday. 

Empty boxes were presented

But in an interview with BBC Hausa, Yusuf Galambi, a member of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) representing Gwaram federal constituency of Jigawa State who had been in the House of Representatives since 2007 alleged that the Nigerian leader presented empty boxes supposedly containing the budget proposal.

Galambi who accused the president of deceit, on Friday morning, said they (lawmakers) “never expected it even in our wildest dreams.”

He maintained that the boxes presented were empty.

We’ve checked but there was nothing inside. We checked it. In the history of the National Assembly, this was the first time such a thing happened,” the lawmaker claimed.

“The constitution has made it clear (that a document must be presented) but this time, it was only a reading on paper. They didn’t provide the document for us to go through and see what is proposed for each sector. Maybe they’ll bring it later.

“If he (Mr Tinubu) was not ready, if the budget proposal was not ready to be presented, he shouldn’t have come and said he was done. We could have given him more time, why the haste? Why would he come and read something and even say he has kept it (document) when it’s empty?” he queried.

He did not spear the leadership of the national assembly headed by Senate President Godswill Akpabio, accusing it of covering up the alleged act of Mr Tinubu.

“They (leaders of the National Assembly) don’t want anyone to talk about it. Maybe they were not informed or were possibly aware of what was planned and they decided not to inform us,” he said.

Allegation nonsensical, misleading 

Reacting to the allegation, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Print Media, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, described it as nonsensical aimed at misleading the public.

“It’s a nonsensical allegation aimed to mislead,” Abdulaziz told Premium Times. “The president is never expected to present the whole haul of heavy documents. What happened at the laying is like the presentation of dummy cheques at award ceremonies. The real thing always follows.”