Dr. Bukola Saraki
The 2019 budget appropriation bill submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari was on Wednesday described as hopeless by the Senate president Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Saraki, the Director General of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, said this in Abuja during a town hall meeting the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had with Civil Society Organisations.
Saraki, in his opening remarks at the meeting, said the budget presented by Buhari on Wednesday “has no future because the statistics do not indicate how it will be funded.
Said he: “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’s not about what you’ll get today.
“It’s about the great country a lot of you have been passing that sacrifice over the years.”
Saraki added that he knew that Buhari would not attend the January 19, 2019 Presidential Debate, pointing out that any president who wanted to lead the country and by extension Africa should be able to tell the people what he wants to do.
Said Saraki: “This is an interactive session I’m not sure whether the other political parties will give you an opportunity like this to ask them any question.
“I’m told that one has debated and you already know the answer to that debate.
“On the second one, I’m very sure he’s not going to debate.
“So how do you assess somebody who is not ready to tell you what he’s 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’re seeking a position, you must come and tell people what you want to do, you must sit down and they’ll ask you questions and that is why we’re 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.”
Abubakar, who was represented by the vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi, also faulted the 2019 budget.
He said: “When you look at the revenue, we will spend 60 per cent 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: “We now wake up everyday with a sense of helplessness.”
While he noted that All Progressives Congress administration didn’t heed warnings over the alarming rate of job losses and unemployment last year, he said the recent rise in the unemployment rate from 18.8 per cent to 23 per cent 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.
He promised that immediately they get elected into office, their administration will show numbers of persons who are unemployed and correspondingly provide daily statistics on the number of persons that will get employment.