Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Thursday dampened the enthusiasm that trailed the presentation of 2019 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari with a declaration that the budget proposal is hopeless.
Speaking at an interactive session between PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja, Saraki alerted Nigerians that the budget proposal has no future because the statistics do not indicate how it will be funded.
Saraki, who is also Director-General of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Campaign Council, PPCCO, also decried the high rate of insecurity in the country, saying Nigerians were safer in 2015 than they are today.
His words: “Yesterday, we all heard the 2019 budget. That is a budget that has no hope for anybody, because if you look at the statistics and the figures, there’s poverty; if you look at the figures based on revenues that are coming in, there is nothing left; so where’s the future?
“There must be an alternative, and that is what we hope that by this evening, speaking to our candidate and vice presidential candidate, not based on sentiments, we are not voting on sentiments; we are voting on what is the need for you?
“How is your life going to be better? Which party offers you a better future, because we see you as those, who are patriotic and committed. It’s not about what you’ll get today.”
The Senate President, who noted that the President would not attend the January 19, 2019, presidential debate, stressed that any president that wants to lead the country and, by extension African, should be able to tell the people what he wants to do.
“This is an interactive session I’m not sure whether the other political parties will give you an opportunity like this to ask them any question. I’m told that one has debated, and you already know the answer to that debate. On the second one, I’m very sure he’s not going to debate. So, how do you assess somebody, who is not ready to tell you what he’s going to do?
“Those days are gone, my good people; the future of this country – a country that leads the continent – that is not the example we want to set for this continent. The whole world is going in a direction. If you’re seeking a position, you must come and tell people what you want to do; you must sit down and they’ll ask you questions, and that is why we’re here.
“Today is your day; we will sit down and take questions. I hope at the end of the exercise, you will stand up and say, yes, this is the team that will secure Nigeria, this is the team that will unite Nigeria; this is the team that will fight the poverty in town and bring a bright future,” Saraki stated.
Also speaking, Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi, lamented that 60 percent of the 2019 budget is dedicated to servicing debt of the APC government, which has surpassed what was accrued in the 16 years of the PDP government!
“When you look at the revenue, we will spend 60 percent to service debt. So, what is left? And they will borrow more. What they borrowed in 2016 and 2017 is the same PDP borrowed in 16 years. When you ask them, they say they used it for ‘capital projects.’”
He decried the level of poverty in the country and lambasted the President for urging Nigerians to tighten their belts. He noted that the “Nigerian people have no belt again to tighten up,” stressing, “We now wake up every day with a sense of helplessness.”
The Atiku’s running mate noted that APC administration didn’t heed warnings over the alarming rate of job losses and unemployment last year. He said the recent rise in the unemployment rate from 18.8 percent to 23 percent is only going to get worse, because “Nobody is doing anything.”
Obi pointed out that, “Today, Nigeria is on the negative side of most world indices on development.”
He promised that immediately they get elected into office, their administration will show numbers of persons, who are unemployed and correspondingly provide daily statistics on the number of persons that will get employment.