Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has blamed the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), for the reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari as he presented the 2019 Budget.
In his statement posted on his official Facebook page, Saraki noted that Nigerians have witnessed stunted growth in their respective businesses, lost their jobs during the recent recession and lost innocent citizens to insurgency in parts of the North East.
He wrote: “The last three-and-a-half years have been eventful ones at the global level and in our domestic economy. From dips in oil prices to major shifts in the economic landscape, crude oil production shut-ins and security challenges, the economy and Nigerians have been directly impacted by these events.
“Many businesses closed
down and many people lost their jobs during the recent recession. In the same
period, we lost innocent citizens to insurgency in parts of the North East,
thousands were displaced, and many lives also lost due to clashes between
farmers and herders, in addition to the general hardship unleashed by unstable
“The recovery from the recession is still fragile. The fundamentals underlying the recovery remain weak, and if unchecked, can lead to dire consequences. The economy still runs on oil and very little progress has been made in terms of diversification.
“As a result, the expansionary budget policy in effect since 2016, which was aimed at raising spending and stimulating growth in the economy, was not matched by achievable revenue targets. The corollary is higher and rising deficit as well as a considerable debt burden, all due to an unsustainable fiscal stance.
“The under-performance of independent revenues is straining government’s ability to meet its expenditure, especially investments in critical infrastructure. This further exposes government to higher deficit levels which have been largely financed by borrowing.
“To be clear, two scenarios will play out if we do not deal decisively with challenges to revenue. These would be to: i. accommodate higher debt with higher repayment costs, which is not sustainable; ii. reduce the capital budget, which would mean a slow-down in government investment in critical infrastructure. This, again, does not aid growth or economy development.
“It is for these reasons that the National Assembly required that the 2018 Budget proposal and future ones be accompanied by a Finance Bill, which would give credence to the financial proposals of government.
“It is one way of establishing credibility in projected revenues. It is imperative, therefore, that a 2019 Finance Bill is submitted to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.”
Also a member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State, Kingsley Chinda has disclosed that Buhari’s “insincerity” during the implementation of previous budgets was one of the reasons lawmakers booed the President.
Speaking after Buhari’s presentation, Chinda said they had the ‘support’ of their colleagues from the ruling APC.
He said, “The presidency has not been fair to Nigerians when it comes to budget and most often they use that to blame the legislature.
“One example is, when it comes to capital releases, you will find out that they have performed very poorly. Today he told Nigerians that they have about N800 billion so far for capital expenditures as against N6.4 trillion, if you calculate that, it will give you about 16 percent. What it means is that they have achieved just 16 per cent release of capital expenditures.”
Chinda pointed out that during lawmakers oversight, they
discovered from some government agencies that only eight per cent of their 2018
budget was released.
“The economy cannot move with that kind of practice,” he said.
Stating that the protest was not ‘planned’, Chinda said: “The protest was not planned, it was spontaneous. This morning, people just felt there was a need for it. It is not just about PDP lawmakers, some of the APC lawmakers felt that because they belonged to the same political party with the president, it will not be tidy for them to come to the open.They are actually not happy with what is going on in the system.”