Minority Leader Eyinnaya Abaribe drew the fire of the APC senators when he attempted to sound literary with his attack on President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech and N10.33tr budget (2020) on the floor on Wednesday.
Describing it as a budget of taxation, Abaribe said many odds and ends were throw together to make the budget, which is why it will fail.
“Budget of fiscal consolidation, investing in critical infrastructure and so forth…In other words, putting everything together like that reminds us of what Shakespeare said: a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” said the minority leader.
Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan got riled up with that witticism. And he flared up.
“Minority leader, this is not a literature class and I want to appeal that you talk on what was read in the budget speech,” said.
Other senators then weighed in, asking how Buhari hopes to raise loans to finance projects and deficit.
Abaribe then seized that again, and poured out more vitriol.
“I want to suggest a name to those who wrote this speech for Mr. President, that this is nothing but a budget of taxation. It is a budget that is based on taxation. It’s based on 7.5 per cent increase in VAT, based on several other increases,” he said.
“I want to mention that the biggest loan we have is the fact that, how would you talk about job creation when you do not invest in what will create jobs?
“Debt servicing as a component is higher than capital expenditure. N2trn for capital expenditure, N2.4trn for debt servicing.
“The projected growth that they put in the budget was 1.9 per cent, less than the population growth of 2.6 per cent. So, if we look at it globally, we are still struggling.
“We may have to take over and direct the economic policy of this government. having seen that they have not done anything and they have failed.
“Two assumptions are critical for this government. First, the assumption on oil prices. I know that our people were happy when there seem to be a little problem in the middle east with Iran which will lead to a spike in the oil price but that seems to have gone down which means that our projection for the cost of oil may also be off the mark.”
“Second one is our projection for the production levels daily. Last year, the average production level was 1.8m BPD. Why don’t we just keep it there? Why must we go up to 2.1 only to be disappointed at the end of the day?
“I know that you have promised the executive that we are going to work very well with the executive to produce the budget, but I plead with my colleagues to look at the facts. You can’t run away from facts.
“The facts here is that this is not a sustainable budget. If we need to change, we must be able to look at the critical fundamentals of this budget speech and make adjustments as due.”
Lawan boiled again.
He insisted that the Minority leader was inaccurate in his statistical presentations.
Similarly, some lawmakers of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, maintained that the figure was bogusly put together by the executive without taking the nation’s dwindling revenue into consideration.
But speaking at a press conference after plenary, Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye said the nation has the best budget put together for 2020.
He said what transpired on the floor was in line with different perspectives of seeing things by people while describing the budget as “budget of consolidation.”
He added that Nigeria must service it’s foreign debts to avoid being classified as “sovereign debt defaulter”, saying that if that happens, Nigeria cannot go anywhere in the world to source for funds anymore.
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