President Goodluck Jonathan
By Muhammad Bello
President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to mitigate the possible adverse effect of the global economic meltdown on Nigerian citizens, while also insisting that his government would do its utmost to create more jobs next year.
These were some of the pledges made by the President while presenting the 2013 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The event, which was supposed to have taken place last week, was shifted to Wednesday by the Senate President, David Mark, to enable law makers in the lower chamber resume from a short recess.
Dressed in dark blue Ijaw attire, with a black hat, President Jonathan flanked by Senate President, David Mark and Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, stood for the national anthem at 10 am exactly.
Thereafter, a short prayer was held before the session commenced inside the hallowed chamber of the House of Representatives.
The budget presentation at this time of the year, THISDAY learnt, is to expedite action on deliberations, review and passing of the document.
This is expected to forestall the type of friction that ensued between the executive and the legislature on the implementation of the 2012 budget.
During his presentation, the president pledged to mitigate the possible adverse effect of the global economic meltdown.
He said the federal government has released N711.6 billion to Ministries, Departments and Agencies in its efforts to ensure the partial implementation of the 2012 budget.
Jonathan said the government will intensify development in the domestic sector, continue to create new jobs and balance economic growth and fiscal consolidation to achieve viable development
Irked by the rate of the disparity between the rich and the poor, which he said limits output and social cohesion, the president said the government will create more jobs and encourage women entrepreneurship.
The president while highlighting major sectoral achievements in the area of health, agriculture, power reform and roads rehabilitation said the 2013 appropriation budget will focus on the nationalising of federal agencies and subsidy re-investment program.
With the 2013 appropriation put at over N3 trillion, a 9 per cent increase over the 2012 budget, President Jonathan said his administration would remain focused on macro economic stability.
He said stated that the administration will continue to pursue prudent economic policies, work to curb corruption and tackle duplication in government institutions.
There was a slight pause in the president's address as women lawmakers and their executive counterparts applauded the President’s announcement that 5 million jobs will be created for women farmers as part of the move to mainstream gender issues.
Flaying the poor performance of the Nigerian team at the recently concluded London Olympics, Jonathan said he will host a national sports retreat to restore the nation's past glory in sports.
He concluded his speech by admonishing the National Assembly to expeditiously deliberate and pass the budget, which he said represent the apex government's drive for continued growth and the improvement of the wellbeing of Nigerians.