Atiku Abubakar, former vice president has advised the federal government to invest in Nigerians, reduce the salaries of political appointees, and sell off some presidential jet in order to restore balance in Nigeria’s weak economy.
Abubakar’s advice comes exactly 14 days after Gotel Communications, a company owned by him, sacked 46 of its workers on Workers’ Day.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a blow on the economies of nations across the globe, and Nigeria, whose economy is largely dependent on the oil sector, is not excluded, leading to poor demand for oil in the global market, and a fall in prices.
Consequently, countries are engaged in a downward review of their budgets. Nigeria has reviewed its 2020 budget, and continued to seek for loans from international sources.
But Abubakar, in a statement on Thursday, flayed the reduction of the 0.6 percent in the budget. Describing it as insufficient, he said when the budget was presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, it was predicated on a projection that the nation would generate crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day, at an expected oil price of $57 per barrel.
“It is to my consternation that despite the crash in the price of oil, and the inability of Nigeria to expand our revenue base through the non-oil sector, the FG of Nigeria has only seen fit to slash our budget by a mere 0.6%. This represents a reduction of only ₦71 billion.
“Given that this is the case, how can anyone justify a reduction in expenditure of just 0.6%? We cannot be the only nation bucking the trend,” he said.
According to him, Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than Nigeria and with a larger global market share, as well as a foreign reserve that is 12 times that of the nation, has slashed her budget by almost 30 percent.
Thus, Abubakar recommended: “The best way out of this economic quagmire is to reduce our expenditure. And a 0.6 percent reduction is no reduction. It is only window dressing. My counsel to Nigeria Government is this: put Nigerians first and cut your coat, not according to your size, but according to your cloth.
“Realistically slash the budget. Every pork barrel has to go. The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President have to be reduced. The ₦27 billion budget for the renovation of the National Assembly has to go.
“The massive budgets to run both the Presidency and the Legislature have to be downsized. The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the President, his vice, and other political office holders must be abandoned.
“Leave the salaries of civil servants alone, but reduce the salaries of political appointees. Sell 8 or 9 of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet. Any budget slash that is less than 25% will not be in the interest of Nigeria.
” And beyond a budget slash, Nigeria needs a budget realignment, to redirect expenditure away from running a massive bureaucracy, into social development sectors like education, infrastructure, and above all, healthcare.
” We must invest in the goose that lays the golden egg – the Nigerian people. These are the types of sacrifices that we need in a time of crisis. We do not need empty gestures that will lead to empty treasuries.”