President Goodluck Jonathan’s remarkable action in laying his 2012 budget proposals on the table of the House of Representatives and making a bow to the legislators was a milestone. It was the first time that a President would lay his spending plans to the legislators and at the same time make a bow to the legislators.
Past Presidents had after finishing the budget address handed over the budget document or speech to the Senate President sitting on the dais.
None had stepped down to lay the budget document on the table of the House or to make a bow. President Jonathan after laying the budget on the table bowed twice to the lawmakers.
The only other time a President bowed to the legislators was on January 25, 2007 when President Olusegun Obasanjo presented the provisional report of the 2006 census to the two chambers.
President Obasanjo’s action then was to a certain degree compelled as he was forced to lay the census report based on the provisions of the constitution.
The significance of yesterday’s development it was being suggested last night could be a proactive move by the presidency to court the legislature ahead of the promising herculean battle to convince the National Assembly to go along with him in the controversial plot to remove subsidy from the prices of petroleum products.
Remarkably, the President did not make any mention of the controversial plan yesterday being that both chambers have formally rejected the move.
Following the budget address the President was hosted to a cocktail in the National Assembly basement. It was the first time a President would have eaten in the National Assembly premises.
Yesterday’s action underlined the yet cordial relationship that has been underpinned by the networking of his legislative aides headed by Senator Joy Emodi, the Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters.
Supporting the President’s entreaty for cordiality yesterday was his promise of more collaboration ahead of the issue of subsidy removal.
As he concluded his address yesterday and with a view to the battles ahead, the President said: “As we collectively resolve to create a brighter and enduring future for all Nigerians – a future of hope and prosperity not lack, fear or hatred, we must prepare to overcome any adversity that may arise.
Accordingly, we must all be determined and committed to follow through with the difficult but balanced choices that we make in piloting the affairs of this great nation.”