Former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has described as grossly insufficient President Muhammadu Buhari response to Nigeria’s dwindling revenue occasioned by the crash in prices of petroleum globally.
He said the reduction of the country’s budget from N10.594 trillion to N10.523 trillion, representing a reduction of only N71 billion or 0.6% is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact that the country leaders have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy.
“For the avoidance of doubt, when this budget was presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, it was predicated on a projection that our nation would generate crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day, at an expected oil price of $57 per barrel.
“Today that is no longer the case. Both our production, and the price of oil have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, to the extent that we have unsold vessels, and our income has tanked by more than 50%.
Atiku said Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than Nigeria and with a larger global market share, as well as a foreign reserve that is 12 times that of Nigeria, has slashed her budget by almost 30%. Ditto for other oil economies.
He argued that Nigeria cannot make up for the loss of expected revenue by taking out more loans and issuing out more bonds, noting that debt would be the death of the country’s economy, and that bonds would put Nigerians in bondage.
According to him, any budget slash that is less than 25% will not be in the interest of Nigeria. And beyond a budget slash, Nigeria needs a budget realignment, to redirect expenditure away from running a massive bureaucracy, into social development sectors like education, infrastructure, and above all, healthcare. We must invest in the goose that lays the golden egg – the Nigerian people.
“The best way out of this economic quagmire is to reduce our expenditure. And a 0.6% reduction is no reduction. It is only window dressing. The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President has to be reduced. The N27 billion budget for the renovation of the National Assembly has to go.
“The massive budgets to run both the Presidency and the Legislature has to be downsized. The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the President, his vice, and other political office holders must be abandoned. Leave the salaries of civil servants alone, but reduce the salaries of political appointees. Sell 8 or 9 of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet. “
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