Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, has faulted the latest review of the 2020 budget by the Federal Government, saying it shows that the regime has lost touch with current global economic realities.
Rather than reviewing the budget, Atiku advised the FG to sell eight or nine of the presidential jets and cancel the N27bn earmarked for the renovation of the National Assembly complex.
Atiku said this in a statement in Abuja, on Thursday. He expressed disappointment that despite the crash of oil prices in the international market and the nation’s inability to expand its revenue base, the regime only slashed the budget by a “mere 0.6 per cent.”
The former Vice President explained that significant cuts in funds budgeted for presidential feeding and transport as well as non-essential sub heads will go a long way in ensuring that Nigerians get a better deal.
Atiku said, “It is to my consternation that despite the crash in the price of oil, and the inability of Nigeria to expand our revenue base through the non-oil sector, the Federal “Government of Nigeria has only seen fit to slash our budget by a mere 0.6 per cent, from N10.594trn to N10.523trn. This represents a reduction of only N71bn.
According to him, as at the time the budget was first presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday October 8, 2019, it was predicated on a crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day, at an expected oil price of $57 per barrel. He said this situation has since changed.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than ours and with a larger global market share, as well as foreign reserves that is 12 times ours, has slashed her budget by almost 30%. Ditto for other oil economies.
He said, “My counsel to the Federal Government of Nigeria is this: put Nigerians first and cut your coat, not according to your size, but according to your cloth.
“Realistically slash the budget. Every pork barrel has to go. The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President has to be reduced. The N27bn 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 jettisoned. 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.
“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.”