Atiku Abubakar, former vice president, has advised Nigerian leaders to abandon luxury and adjust to the reality that comes with living in a pandemic.
In a statement on Thursday, Atiku described the reduction of the 2020 budget by 0.6% as “window dressing”.
“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 FG of Nigeria has only seen fit to slash our budget by a mere 0.6%. This represents a reduction of only ₦71 billion,” Atiku, who was the presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 election, said.
“Putting politics aside, this is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact we have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy.”
Explaining that crude production and revenue projections have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Atiku said the 2020 budget should have been slashed by at least 25%.
“How can anyone justify a reduction in expenditure of just 0.6%? We cannot be the only nation bucking the trend?
“Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than ours and with a larger global market share, as well as a foreign reserve that is 12 times ours, has slashed her budget by almost 30%. Ditto for other oil economies.
“Any budget slash that is less than 25% will not be in the interest of Nigeria.”
Listing items that should be expunged from the budget, Atiku said the N27 billion budget for the renovation of the national assembly should be scrapped alongside the monies budgeted for purchasing cars for the president and other political officeholders.
“The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the president and vice president has to be reduced. Sell eight or nine of the jets in the presidential air fleet,” he advised.
“Leave the salaries of civil servants alone, but reduce the salaries of political appointees.”
Atiku, who once claimed to be the largest employer of labour in Adamawa state, advised the government not to make up for revenue losses by taking more loans and issuing bonds.
Nigeria has had to revise its 2020 budget after crude oil, its main source of forex earnings, took a hit on the back of reduced demand as a result of lockdowns imposed across the world to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Culled from TheCable