Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called for the slashing of billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
This, he said, was among necessary measures to save Nigeria’s economy from imminent collapse in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Atiku, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, said despite the crash in the price of oil, and the inability of Nigeria to expand its revenue base through the non-oil sector, the federal government has only slashed the budget by 0.6%, from ₦10.594 trillion to ₦ 10.523 trillion.
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In a statement issued by his Media Office and also posted on his Twitter handle on Thursday, Atiku said, “The ₦27 billion 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 billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President has to be reduced.”
He also said “The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the President, his vice, and other political office holders must be jettisoned.”
He, however, asked the government to “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,” he also advised.
“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.
“These are the types of sacrifices that we need in a time of crisis. We do not need empty gestures that will lead to empty treasuries,” he added.
The Waziri Adamawa explained that the best way out of the economic quagmire was to reduce the nation’s expenditure, arguing that a 0.6% reduction was only window dressing.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced the approval of N10.523 trillion for revised 2020 national budget.
This was said to be as a result of a memo submitted by the ministry of finance, budget and national planning to the National Executive Council (FEC) for approval of the amendments of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for 2020-2022 as well as an amendment to the 2020 budget.
The minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, who briefed State House reporters on the approval on Wednesday, said the revised budget had a difference of about N71.5 billion when compared to the approved budget.