Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, yesterday, faulted sections of the 2021 budget as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the President failed to realise that oil boom was over.
Abaribe, who spoke while contributing to the debate on the N13.8tr 2021 budget, said the proposal did not reflect an understanding that the world had changed and that the nation’s problems had intensified.
“The era of oil is fading out, but the government retains an attitude of business-as-usual. This is not time for tokenistic ideas. Nigeria needs big ideas. The 2021 budget proposal failed to deliver on that point.”
However, Lawan disagreed with Abaribe as he reminded him that the budget proposal was an estimate and assumption, adding that every government had done budgetary projections since 1999 and would continue to do so.
He admonished Abaribe and others to rather concentrate on the areas they think would make the budget perform optimally, to which the Senate Minority Leader replied that assumption should be made on the wrong things.
“So we are also going to look at the assumptions so that we know what we are assuming about, so we want to go ahead as the 2021 budget do not reflect an understanding of the fundamental challenges that beset this country.
“How would you budget 100 per cent when you know you are going to get 30 per cent. Every year we have a budget in which the capital budget and the debt are almost equal. What does that tell us, how do we move forward like that? He asked.
After Abaribe’s argument, Lawan commended him saying, “If I were the Minority Leader, I would have spoken in the same brilliant manner,” but that the 2014 budget had only 15 per cent for capital budget even when the then administration had plenty of money.
Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi said Abaribe was playing to the gallery of the opposition, adding, “The budget is that of recovery and resilience, I know what recovery means as a Veterinary Doctor and I know what it means to bring an animal back to recovery. This government understands that the country is not well.”
On his part, Orji Uzor Kalu defended the Federal Government as he also tackled Abaribe for criticising the budget.
Earlier, Senate Leader Yahayaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North) raised a controversial issue when he took a swipe at those advocating restructuring of the country saying they were bent on disintegrating the country.
But former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu disagreed with Abdullahi, saying the proponents of restructuring were patriotic Nigerians, who were not calling for the country’s division.
MEANWHILE, ActionAid Nigeria raised concerns over the actualisation of the 2021 budget proposal of N13.08tr, describing it as ambitious and unrealisable.
The group stated this in a statement issued by its Communications Coordinator, Lola Iyanda in Lokoja, noting that the budget as presented by President Buhari to the National Assembly on October 8, 2020 would not be able to meet the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians, as revenue accruing to the country continues to decline.