Secondus: Buhari’s Budget Replete with False Data, Manipulations

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•Says APC out to inflict more pains through taxation
•Raises alarm over plot to rig Kogi, Bayelsa elections

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The 2020 Appropriation Bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday is full of unrealistic and ill-advised assumptions as well as false data and manipulations, National Chairman of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, said on Saturday. This is the latest in a torrent of bashing that has greeted the budget of N10.33 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, which Buhari unveiled when he addressed the National Assembly on Tuesday in Abuja.

Secondus told THISDAY that the budget was dead on arrival, calling the appropriation bill another testament to the determination of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to inflict more economic hardship on the people through extensive and multiple taxation, including the tolling of major roads.

The PDP chairman also alleged plots by the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. He explained the appointment of former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to head the reconciliatory panels in the two states with his wealth of experience.

“Nothing encapsulates APC’s insensitivity to the groaning of Nigerians than their determination to increase their pain through extensive taxation, VAT, and toll gates,” Secondus said in an interview with THISDAY. “The voodoo budget presented by the president this week clearly shows the regime’s inability to tackle the nation’s economic woes,” he added.

The PDP national chairman explained, “What the APC has done with power in the last five years does not encourage any lover of democracy and good governance to go their way. Earlier this week, for instance, a credible international agency, Oxfam, released a disturbing data showing that Nigerians living below the poverty threshold, meaning extreme poverty, has increased from 91.5 million in April to 94.5 within six months.

“This data should not surprise anybody living in this country for the past five years of glaring incompetence and dangerous parochial approach to governance, which has worsened insecurity and endless bloodletting across the country. The issue of kidnapping and banditry has enveloped the land with terrorism still raging in the North-east.”

Secondus accused APC and INEC of scheming to use the re-run and inconclusive election strategy, as witnessed in the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, to rig the November 16 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

According to the PDP national chairman, “Intelligence available to the party shows that the All Progressives Congress and INEC are planning charade elections in these states, as was witnessed in Ekiti, Osun, Kano and Kaduna states. They are planning to use the strategy of inconclusive elections and re-run to rig the elections in the two states.
“We are aware that APC has chosen the option of violence knowing what awaits them at the ballot box. Unfortunately, Nigerian security agencies are aware of these evil plots of the APC.”

Warning about the dangers of poll manipulation, Secondus stated, “At this juncture, let me warn that APC might be standing on the excitement of its rigged elections in the past and think that they will always have their way in their dubious act. I charge APC leadership to take time and read our political history and know that the routes they are headed are aimed at destroying our democracy and installing despotism.

“We want to warn INEC that we are aware of their rigging romance with the APC in the November 16 elections in these two states.”
Secondus counselled leaders of his party’s campaign in Bayelsa and Kogi states, saying, “Your Excellences, this campaign council has a gigantic task of ensuring that the electoral desires of the people of these two states are realised.”

He said, “The heightened tension in the two states at the moment is needless if the APC is willing and equipped to face the electorate. We have on good authority the skillful underhand means, like intimidation and vote buying by the APC.
“I wish, therefore, to call on the international community and all lovers of democracy to show more than passing interest in the forthcoming elections in the two states.”

Secondus advised PDP members not to submit to intimidation. “I want to urge all our members and supporters in these two states to refuse to be intimidated by the APC evil design of using violence and money to undermine the electoral process,” he said, adding, “We also call on members of the press and international election observers to show more diligence in their responsibilities.”

He explained that PDP had entrusted the task of reconciling aggrieved aspirants in Kogi and Bayelsa states to Saraki because of his wealth of experience in politics and his huge managerial skills.
Saraki was appointed to head a five-man national reconciliation committee set up to reconcile aggrieved governorship aspirants in the two states, with the PDP vice presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Mr. Peter Obi, as vice chairman.