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Nig @ 50: Jonathan is mismanaging Nigeria’s resources –Senator Yale

You have expressed stiff opposition on the N6.7 billion naira the executive wants to spend in celebrating the 50 years independence anniversary of the country,…

You have expressed stiff opposition on the N6.7 billion naira the executive wants to spend in celebrating the 50 years independence anniversary of the country, why?
In terms of that, it is not worth it, it is colossal waste, it is a misplacement of priority. When you are reviewing the budget downward and when you need more money for supplementary budget, it was not worth looking at. But in terms of our existence as a nation and in terms of development it is worth celebrating, we have cause to celebrate as a nation after 50 years of political independence. The fact that we survive and live together as one nation, as one entity despite our differences in terms of religion, in terms of tribe and ethnic difference, it is worth celebrating.  Beside that, there are a lot of physical or infrastructural development in all sectors of the economy. That too is worth celebrating . The fact that there is no judicious utilization of the enormous resources at the disposal of the government does not mean that we have done well in our nationhood.
But the government is saying that there is need to spend the money and celebrate the golden anniversary of the nation in a very big way. Don’t you think it is worth celebrating that way?
No, that is what I am saying, that it, is a colossal waste. This money should have been utilized, channel it, plough it into productive sector of the economy to provide infrastructural facilities. It is a contradiction on the part of the government. Remember, this is being proposed when you are cutting down capital budget. These are contradictions and secondly they are cutting the capital expenditure by 40 per cent across the board. It is very wrong because there are priority areas; some projects are more important  that they should not indiscriminately be cut down. And they are at certain stages of completion,  so, anything like that will affect them.
This came to you as part of the request by Mr. President in the N630 billion naira supplementary appropriation bill  together with the one to review downwards the 2010 budget that he signed just less than three months ago and the National Assembly has also approved it. What is the wisdom in this?
The budget approved in April before he forwarded  another request for a cut has not even started full operation so it is not necessary, in the sense that there is no evidence to show or warrant  the downward review of the budget. If it is because of the  fall in oil price, well, oil is still sold above the benchmark price, so there is no evidence and we are already eight months into the year. What is the level of the collection of the revenue; how much have they collected to convince us that the revenue cannot meet the expenditure? All these information are not made available to us. Oil is still sold at over 70 dollars per barrel and government has expanded the frontiers of revenue generation; we don’t know where the revenue goes.
I don’t know when this country has implemented its budget 100 per cent. It has never. Whether they cut it or not, or why do we return money to the treasury at the end of every fiscal year? So, there is no use wasting our time  cutting the budget and letting important projects suffer.
I don’t see any logic in it. If you are reviewing  the main budget downward because of revenue shortfall, where do you get additional  money to finance the supplementary appropriation? This is a contradiction. You cut here and request for more fund there for new projects or programs. They should have just requested for adjustments or virement to finance the supplementary budget from the savings made from the capital expenditure that we reviewed downwards.
Supplementary budget is prepared when the proposals are  not foreseen. That is when circumstances dictate the necessity and in this particular case it is not necessary when  the budget is reviewed downwards.
If the cut is to reduce expenditure or to spend less naira because of the import dependence of the economy, it is acceptable, otherwise revenue shortfall is  not an excuse.
Successive governments have been talking about diversification of the economy. Do you think that is feasible?
I think to do that is to give attention to important areas such as agricultural sector. In those days before the discovery of   oil agriculture used to be the mainstay of the economy. It used to provide the foreign exchange  for the country. So the neglect of the agric sector  is what led to our present predicament. I think as soon as the government revives the sector and gives it priority, things will change for the better.
And another disadvantage in the cut is slow growth. Cuts affect employment generation especially now that banks are not lending.
After all, what purpose does it serve to review the budget downwards when we have hunger, disease, poverty, insecurity and general infrastructural challenges? The Federal Government needs to be open, transparent and try to block leakages and judiciously utilize  the resources.


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