As Senators began the N10.33 trillion budget debate on Wednesday, there were different opinions on the viability of the budget by lawmakers who tried to tag the Appropriation based on their own different perspectives.
Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe while ‘firing’ the budget said that so many things which could not be obviously achieved were put together in the budget.
“Very many things were put and jumbled together: 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.”
This, however, did not go down well with the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan who insisted that he should have concentrated on the contents of the budget rather than taking the chambers through a literature class.
“Minority leader, this is not a literature class and I want to appeal that you talk on what was read in the budget speech.”
Senate later raised concerns about securing loans and other issues, which paved way for the Minority leader to speak on.
Abaribe continued, saying the budget was that of taxation rather than consolidation.
“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.
“Senate President, Senate leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi has helped us in his lead debate on how the Federal Government intended to secure loans in order to shore up the budget deficit while faulting the development.
“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. 2trn for capital expenditure, 2.4trn 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.”
Senate President 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.
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.”
Govs To Hold Virtual Meeting On Judicial, Legislative Autonomy
The Governors of the 36 states of the federation will hold a virtual meeting today to further discuss the issue of financial autonomy to judicial and legislative arms in states.
This is contained in a statement by NGF Head of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Monday in Abuja.
Bello-Barkindo said efforts were already being made in all states to either constitute State Accounts Allocation Committees (SAAC) or inaugurate them.
This, according to him, is preparatory to the granting of full autonomy to the two arms of government at the subnational level.
The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) had since embarked on a nationwide strike on the issue.
He said the governors had been working day and night to establish modalities for the autonomy in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
He said that the governors would also be updated on the activities of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who headed the governors’ interface with the committee.
Bello-Barkindo said that the meeting would also review the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC), which would take place a day after.
“Other items on the agenda include the regular update on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for results (SFTAS) to provide states’ status on their DLI’s and upcoming deadlines.
The meeting would also receive presentation from the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, regarding unlocking liquidity through sale/optimisation of state-owned redundant/sub-optimal assets,” he said.
He added that the Policy Development Facility (PDF) bridge programme would also discuss diversification and non-oil export opportunities for states in post Covid-19 era.
2023: PDP Flexes Muscle Over C’ River
Leading members of the main opposition PDP converged in Calabar, Cross River at the weekend to strategise on how to retain its grip on power in the state.
This is contained in a statement e-mailed to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
The Tide source reports that the PDP has been in power in Cross River since the return of democracy in the country 22 years ago but the defection of the current governor appears to mark a turning point.
Political pundits argue that the defection of the state Governor Ben Ayade from the PDP to the ruling APC may affect the fortunes of the PDP in the years ahead.
The governor’s departure is now seen as a major test for the PDP in what is now seen as a game of wits between the PDP and the APC.
Addressing the party’s chieftains, the National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, declared that Cross River would “remain the stronghold of the PDP, in spite of Gov. Ayade’s defection.
“PDP will work to retain the confidence the people of Cross River State reposed in our party and retain its dominance in the state.
“Our party has governed since the return of party politics in 1999.
“Cross River will remain the stronghold of our party well after 2023,’’ said Secondus, flanked by other chieftains of the party, including Sen. Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Secondus told PDP members in the state to remain resolute to make the party retain power in the upcoming general elections.
Also speaking, a former governor of the state, Sen. Liyel Imoke, gave assurance that no other party would take the state from the PDP, “being the dominant party in the state.
“PDP is the only party known to our people. I assure the leadership of our party that we will deliver victory in 2023,’’ he stated.
Imoke governed the state from 2007 to 2015 when he handed over to Ayade now of the APC.
Other PDP chieftains, who were present at the event included former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, former Gov. Donald Duke of Cross River and the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mr Efiok Cobham.
Also present were Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Hon. Etta Mbora and Hon. Essien Ayi, all serving members of the House of Representatives among other party’s chieftains.
…Vows To Take Over Anambra
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, says the party remains focused to take over the state in the upcoming governorship poll.
Nwobu said this in an interview with newsmen in Awka yesterday, adding that he would not be distracted by those trying to destabilise the party in the state.
He lauded the National Executive Committee of the party for organising successful ward congresses in the state.
He described the success of the exercise as a sure step to the party’s free, fair and credible primary election.
“We want to conduct our primary election, where party people will freely vote and produce a candidate that will be acceptable to Anambra people at the November 6 poll.
“This is not time for distractions. We are focused on taking over government from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
“The party has shortchanged millions of Anambra people in terms of governance.
Nwobu said he remained the valid chairman of PDP in Anambra, having emerged from a valid process that was upheld by a Federal High Court in its May 24, 2018 judgment.
He said the judgment had not been reversed by any higher court and was “unfazed by any court judgment”, which purportedly removed him.
“My leadership is still subsisting, no superior court has set that judgment aside and a court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot do that.
“Our team of legal experts is taking care of that. The decision to appeal will be advised,” the PDP chairman said.
The Tide source reports that Chief Chukwudi Umeaba at the weekend announced that he had taken over the party in the state as the Acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
Umeaba, who announced the suspension of the ward congresses, said his action was predicated on the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court.
According to him, the judgment delivered on June 9, nullified the process that produced Nwobu’s leadership.
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