Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Presidential Candidate of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Tope Fasua has for the fourth time led hundreds of protesters to the National Assembly in Abuja to demand from lawmakers, upward review of 2019 national budget to the tune of N15trillion.
Fasua, who spoke to journalists at the entrance of National Assembly complex after submitting a letter of demand to leadership of both chambers argued that the N8.83trn appropriation budget presented by President Buhari was too small for the country.
According to him, “The budget is too small, and as you can see, what this placard I’m holding says that Nigeria budget only holds 60% of its GDP. Other countries hold 40% of their GDP. We have been on this and you know it is not easy to achieve anything in this country except you protest and consistent on what you’re doing.
“Luckily, the Ministers of Budget, Finance and Co, have listened to what we are saying but they have not communicated officially but we saw some of their statements in the newspapers. Part of our involvement in this is that we are not only in politics just for politics sake but for impact on the people of Nigeria.”
“The budget has been transmitted to the National Assembly, it is now in the court of the National Assembly, we are very vehement that the National Assembly should have a total review of that budget, we are ready to be called for discussions to show them the way we can increase our revenue.”
Fasua lamented that Nigerians are so dehumanized to the point that they no longer demand for good governance.
“The budget of a country is the most important document in a country, in any given year. Our people are so dehumanized that they are not even asking for better governance anymore, they think this is the best they can achieve and it’s highly unfortunate.”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday December 17, 2018 presented N8.83trn budget estimates to a joint session of the National Assembly for their consideration.
The 2019 national budget proposal is N300bn lesser than the N9.12trn, which was the size of the 2018 budget. The President said the fiscal document was predicated on an oil production estimate of 2.3 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of N 305 to a dollar.
He also proposed a Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 3.01 per cent and an inflation rate of 9.98 per cent. The total projected revenue, according to the President, is N 6.97trn, which is three per cent lower than the 2018 estimate of N7.17 trn.
Buhari said the expected income consisted of oil revenue projected at N3.73trn and non-oil revenue estimated at N1.39trn. He explained that the sum of N8.83trn was estimated as the total expenditure with N4.04trn being recurrent expenditure and N2.031trn as capital expenditure.
He said apart from being less than the 2018 appropriated expenditure estimate of N 9.12 trn, the proposed budget was higher than the N 8.6trn originally proposed by the executive to the National Assembly for 2018.
He added that the budget deficit was projected to decrease to N 1.86trn (or 1.3 per cent of GDP) in 2019 from N1.95 trn projected for 2018.
Fasua, however, commended Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udo Udoma for reacting to their demands on the small 2019 budget by saying they would look into it but he added that Udoma’s comment was “too futuristic” saying they need a quick intervention from National Assembly on its upward review as the budget is in the hands of lawmakers.