Deji Elumoye in Abuja
A pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has called on the federal government to be conscious of the suffering of Nigerians in its presentation of the 2020 budget proposals to the legislative arm of government tomorrow.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in an executive communication to the leadership of the National Assembly last Wednesday hinted of his readiness to present the 2020 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the legislators tomorrow by 2pm.
Speaking on the expectation of the group from the 2020 budget, Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY yesterday that in preparing the budget government should not overlook the hardship an average Nigerian is currently going through.
“We ordinarily would expect the government to be very sensitive to the plight of the suffering people of Nigeria as economic hardship bites harder on daily basis,” he said.
The spokesman advised the federal government to include in the budget measures that would cushion high costs of food, transportation and other daily needs of average Nigerians.
Odumakin, however, expressed concern that few days to the budget presentation many anti-people programmes were put in place by the federal government.
According to him, “Announcing measures like re-introduction of tolls on the nation’s death traps called highway; proposed taxation on DSTV and data purchase; and other poverty taxation measures on the eve of budget presentation do not give confidence that there is any pro-people plan by the Buhari-led federal government.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of the National Assembly is billed to meet ahead of the presentation of the 2020 budget estimates by the President tomorrow.
Sources told THISDAY yesterday that the meeting which would be presided over by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, would have in attendance the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President, Deputy House Speaker and all the 16 principal officers of the two chambers.
The meeting, it was further learnt, which would hold shortly before plenary tomorrow, would agree on the format the budget presentation by the President later in that day would take.
The meeting would also agree on the need for the Senate and the House to be on the same page so that the budget presentation by the President would be hitch-free.
THISDAY gathered that the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives wanted to avoid a re-occurrence of the embarrassment the President was subjected to on December 19, 2018 when he presented and laid the 2019 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of the National Assembly at the chambers of the House of Representatives.
“Although the ruling party, the All Peoples Congress (APC), is in firm control of the two chambers of the National Assembly, we want to ensure that what transpired at last December’s budget presentation by the President did not repeat itself. So, we have to put our house in order ahead of Tuesday,” a ranking Senator told THISDAY.
The National Assembly had last Thursday approved the 2020-2022 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) draft sent to it penultimate Wednesday by the President.
The two chambers at Thursday plenary jerked up the total estimated expenditure of the federal government in 2020 from N10.002 trillion to N10.729 trillion based on the recommendation of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Finance that worked on the 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP draft within one week.
The increase in expenditure, according to the committee report, arose from $57 approved as oil price bench mark as against $55 proposed by the executive in the MTEF/FSP documents.
The two chambers also agreed that part of the N10.729 trillion now proposed as aggregate expenditure profile of the 2020 budget is N548 billion added to the N942.6 billion expected revenue from Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
According to the report, the N942.6 billion revenue target of NCS for 2020 budget is now increased to N1.5trillion due to improved performance of NCS within the last nine months.