Chuks Okocha in Abuja
As President Muhammadu Buhari presents the 2020 budget bill to a joint session of the National Assembly today, the main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the exercise as a mere routine, alleging that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government was not interested in the performance of the budget.
PDP said it’s not enough for the President to rush to the National Assembly to present the budget, but the President should endeavour to tell Nigerians how the budget has been performing since he became the President in 2015.
PDP, in an interview with THISDAY by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “To us, there is nothing spectacular about President Buhari presenting the budget to the National Assembly on Tuesday. The budget presentation is a mere routine. It is merely a yearly ritual.
“We dare ask: what is the performance ratio of the budget since 2015? Has the budget been implemented up to 50 per cent? What has been the ratio or rates of implementation of the budget since he took over the governance of the country? Is he worried that the performance rate of the budget in the last four years has remained less than 50 per cent?
“Take for instance, the capital budget for 2019 budget is just is being released in the last quarter of the year. So, what can be done in the last quarter since it is expected that budget should be based on a 12-calendar circle?
“The normal claim is that the budget will live the circle of the fiscal year till when the next budget is passed and yet the capital budget for 2019 is just been released. What is the level of performance of the 2019 budget? What is the performance rate of other budgets? What is the performance ratio compared to what we had prior to 2015?”
The PDP national publicity secretary said none of the budgets presented so far have addressed the rising level of poverty and unemployment in the country, alleging that the N-power initiative and the social interventions programme are nothing but an avenue to siphon funds.
The President 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 today at 2.00 p. m.
The early submission was aimed at returning the federal government budget cycle from May-June to January-December.
The presentation was meant to have taken place in the third week of September, but was stalled by Buhari’s participation at the 74th United Nations General Assembly.