Only few officials of the Presidency will be allowed to accompany President Muhammadu Buhari to Thursday’s presentation of the 2021 Budget to a Joint Session of the National Assembly.
This was disclosed by both the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during the sitting of the two chambers in their respective chambers on Wednesday.
They both cited the need to comply with the protocols for the Coronavirus Disease as reason for limited the number of officials to accompany the President.
Lawan revealed that only key government officials will accompany President Buhari for the presentation of 2021 Budget on Thursday.
Lawan added that the budget presentation will not exceed one hour in order to comply with the COVID-19 protocol.
He asked the lawmakers to comply with the COVID-19 protocol during the budget presentation on Thursday.
Lawan said: “The joint session normally take place in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
“It is going to be the same.
“It will take place there, but by this time around because of the situation of COVID-19, we have made arrangements to observe social distancing in the chamber.
“We also have to wear or face masks mandatorily.
“We are going to also abridge the entire event because we will be many there.
“So the entire event will last just about an hour.
“From the entry of the President into the chamber and addresses and the presentation and laying will be just an hour event so that we are able to comply with the requirements of the COVID-19 protocol.
“Mr. President too this time around will not be accompanied by many people on the entourage.
“Only few people – very key and relevant to budget – will accompany Mr. President into the chamber.
“I think by the arrangement those of them that have little to do with the budget will join virtually what will happen.”
The Speaker, who spoke while reading a letter of the proposed budget presentation from the president to members at plenary, said the presentation will be from 11am.
Gbajabiamila said members would be mandated to wear their face masks as part of compliance to COVID-19 protocol.
The speaker said an abridged version of the budget would be presented by the President so that everything could be done within one hour.
He said himself and Lawan will also present abridged versions of their speeches.
This, according to him, was to reduce the time during the presentation as COVID-19 does not allow crowded environment.
According to Gbajabiamila: “The budget presentation will not be the usual annual presentation.
“It will be abridged because of the need to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.”
He also said there would be room for social distancing as members would be allowed to sit in the gallery.
Gbajabiamila said the presentation is expected to begin at 11am.