- Says 70 percent recurrent expenditure unacceptable
- Buhari harps on govt’s commitment to create jobs, attract investors
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, Wednesday in Abuja tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to rejig the country’s security architecture.
The former Edo State governor also threw his weight behind community policing which he said was currently already under consideration, noting however, that modalities for community policing must be well spelt out.
Oshiomhole’s call on the president to reorganise the security architecture of the country, seemed to lend credence to various calls in recent times on the president to change the service chiefs who have been in office in the past four years and are not perceived to have shown enough capacity to stem the tide of insecurity confronting the country.
However, the president has at different times defended his action, saying changing heads of security agencies during the time of emergency may not be healthy for the nation.
Oshiomhole who made this call at the opening of the presidential policy dialogue session at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, said government policies must be evolved in a way that they have direct impact on ordinary citizens who believe in the president adding that the fight against corruption must be holistic.
“We need to implement anti-corruption strategy in a comprehensive manner that would evolve the system, society. There is also the need to rejig the security apparatus and operational use of community policing which is already being discussed but I think we need to go into the specific on the issue of ‘how’ because every minute, every second, time is going.
“As a party founded on the philosophy of social democracy, we need to expand programmes that touch the lives of people such as the social housing, social investment programme, access to public healthcare, access to public education and support to small scale industries,” he said.
Oshiomhole also called for what he described as radical reduction of 70 percent allocation in the nation’s annual budgets for recurrent expenditure as against only 30 percent of the estimates being allocated for capital expenditure.
According to him, budgetary allocations to four critical areas which affect the lives of citizens must be increased, listing the four areas as the health sector, education, agriculture and infrastructure.
He emphasised that a situation where huge budgetary allocations go for recurrent expenditure while children are taught under the trees is unacceptable, insisting that the government need to come up with policies that will be beneficial to millions of poor Nigerians who believe in the president.
“We need to radically change the budget contents. We need to do everything possible to reduce the recurrent expenditure from the current 70 percent and increase the budgetary allocation to the four sectors that are part of the life of citizens, namely: the health sector, education, agriculture, infrastructure. The more money that we spend on recurrent (expenditure), the less than is available for these critical areas.
“It is not acceptable that we spend 80 percent on recurrent and we have some of our children in some states being taught under the tree even during this raining season. There is need for radical decisions to change this so that those millions of poor people who we saw across the states who fanatically believe in the person of our president and through the president, connect with our party, we must put appropriate policies in place to ensure that at the end of the day, we can measure how all of the things we have done or we are going to do at the end of the four years have impact on their quality of lives,” he added.
He also called for meaningful use of the pension fund, submitting that workers who contribute to the scheme need to enjoy certain social assets such as housing so they can have homes to live in when they eventually retire.
According to him, the pension scheme initiative was not conceived to fund federal government’s deficit but rather designed to alleviate the plights of workers who contribute to the scheme and hence should be deployed to serve that purpose.
“I asked our experts to recognise that the primary purpose of the workers’ social capital is that it would be creatively managed and deployed to workers’ social needs including housing, education and all the other factors.
“It wasn’t meant to fund government’s deficit. It wasn’t meant to support federal government’s deficit. It was meant to address the primary social purpose of those who work so that they are sure that by the time that they are retired, they have a modest home to retire to…
“I think we must visit these issues, address them because this president if he has opposition, it is among the rich. If he has supporters, it is among the poor. The poor people’s money must be used to address the critical challenges of the poor. May God drive our thoughts, our processes and rejig everything so that at the end of the day, those people would say ‘yes, sai baba! We elected him. We trusted him and he has delivered,” he submitted.
The presidential policy dialogue session was organised with the objective of evolving policies aimed at fostering economic growth and consolidating on the achievements of the first term of Buhari’s administration.
While declaring the event open, Buhari said whereas his administration came up in 2015 at a period of economic recession following the fall in global prices of oil, there had been notable economic progress since then through various monetary and fiscal measures put in place.
According to him, not only has inflation been put under control, external reserves have also increased, adding that food security has been enhanced through policies on agriculture.
Against this background, he said the convocation of the presidential dialogue session was designed to consolidate on these achievements.
The president also said his administration would continue to provide incentives aimed at attracting investments and creating jobs as he proceeded to highlight the objectives of the policy dialogue session.
“In line with the “Next Level Strategy” of our party, the All Progressives Congress, which seeks to consolidate on our achievements over the past four years, this policy dialogue session has been conceived to:
“Advise the government over the next four years to deliver on our promises in a manner that reflects true changes to the livelihood of the people; discuss and propose for Federal Government’s approval, key strategies and high impact initiatives to stimulate economic growth and development,” he said.
He described the session as a convergence of various stakeholders cutting across the private sector, developmental partners and industry experts meant to deliberate on the way forward for the country, noting however, that the dialogue would “be wholly advisory and implementation will be left to the federal machinery of government.”