Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has dismissed the 2019 Appropriation Bill, submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that, it is hopeless and bound to fail.
Senator Saraki, who spoke in his capacity as the Director-General of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Campaign Council, in Abuja, during a Town Hall meeting with the Presidential Candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, and some Civil Society Organisations, also disclosed that Nigerians were safer in 2015, than they are today.
The running mate to Atiku, Peter Obi, who stood in for Atiku at the event, lamented that 60 percent of the 2019 budget was dedicated to servicing the debt of the APC government, which had surpassed what was accrued in the 16 years of the PDP government.
Saraki in his opening remark, stressed that the budget presented by Buhari, on Wednesday, “has no future, because the statistics do not indicate how it will be funded.”
According to him: “Yesterday (Wednesday), we all heard the 2019 Budget Appropriation Bill; that is a Budget that has no hope for anybody, because if you look at the statistics and the figures, there is poverty, if you look at the figures based on revenues that are coming in, there is nothing left, so where is the future.
“There must be an alternative, and that is what we hope that by this evening speaking to our Candidate and Vice Presidential Candidate, not based on sentiments, we are not voting on sentiments, we are voting on what is the need for you
“How is your life going to be better? Which party offers you a better future, because we see you as those who are patriotic and committed. It is not about what you will get today. It is about the great country a lot of you have been passing that sacrifice over the years.”
The Senate President who noted that the President would not attend the January 19, 2019, Presidential Debate, stressed that any President that wants to lead the country, and by extension Africa, should be able to tell the people what he wants to do.
According to him: “This is an interactive session. I am not sure whether the other political parties will give you an opportunity like this to ask them any question. I am told that one has debated, and you already know the answer to that Debate. On the second one, I am very sure he is not going to debate. So, how do you assess somebody who is not ready to tell you what he is going to do.
“Those days are gone, my good people, the future of this country, a country that leads the continent, that is not the example we want to set for this continent. The whole world is going in a direction, if you are seeking a position, you must come and tell people what you want to do, you must sit down, and they will ask you questions, and that is why we are here.
“Today is your day, we will sit down and take questions, I hope at the end of the exercise, you will stand up and say yes this is the team that will secure Nigeria, this is the team that will unite Nigeria, this is the team that will fight the poverty in town, and bring a bright future.”
Atiku’s running mate, Obi, who also faulted the 2019 budget, noted: “When you look at the revenue, we will spend 60 percent to service debt. So, what is left? And they will borrow more.
“What they borrowed in 2016 and 2017, is the same PDP borrowed in 16 years. When you ask them, they say they use it for the capital project.”
Obi decried the level of poverty in the country, and lambasted the President for urging Nigerians to tighten their belts. He noted that the “Nigerian people have no belt again to tighten up”, stressing that, “we now wake up everyday with a sense of helplessness.”
While he noted that the APC administration did not heed warnings over the alarming rate of job losses and unemployment, last year, he said that the recent rise in the unemployment rate from 18.8 percent to 23 percent, is only going to get worse, because “nobody is doing anything”.
Obi pointed out that today, Nigeria is on the negative side of most world indices on development, today.
He promised that immediately they get elected into office, their administration will show the numbers of persons who are unemployed, and correspondingly provide daily statistics on the number of persons that will get employment.