Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar has told the Nigerian government to abandon luxury and adjust to the realities that has been super-imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Atiku gave the advice in a statement on Thursday, saying the reduction of the 2020 budget by 0.6% is a mere “window dressing”.
According to him, in view of the fact that crude oil production and revenue projections have been badly affected by COVID-19, the 2020 budget should have been slashed by at least 25%.
He 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 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.
“Putting politics aside, this is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact we have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy.”
“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.”
The former vice president singled out the N27 billion budget for the renovation of the national assembly and the monies budgeted for purchasing cars for the president and other political officeholders as items that should be expunged from the budget
He added that “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 further suggested that the salaries of political appointees should be reduced but warned against touching that of civil servants.
Atiku further warned the government not to make up for revenue losses by taking more loans and issuing bonds.