By Temitope Akintoye,
Former Nigerian Vice-President and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, has advocated for a reduction in the costs of governance, saying that existing economic realities in the nation would only be adequately managed if expenditure is reduced.
He advised against increased lending by the Federal Government and said that the key to safeguarding the nation’s economy lay within the country’s governing apparatus rather than in incurring debts which may turn out to be liabilities in the long term.
The former vice president, in a statement released from his office on Thursday, urged the nation to look inwards in its battle to overcome the coronavirus induced economic meltdown and stated that drastic moves should be implemented in order to reflect existing realities as well as rebuild the country’s finances.
He stated that the recent 0.6 percent reduction in the nation’s Year 2020 budget was negligible as it represented only N71 billion, and advised that higher cuts be implemented in order to maximize available funds and reduce the country’s dependence of domestic and international loans.
“Realistically slash the budget. Every pork barrel has to go. The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President has 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 has to be downsized. The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the President, his vice, and other political office holders must be jettisoned. 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”, he said.
According to the Atiku, such harsh economic measures were necessary in order to buffer the over 50 percent loss in income which the country had suffered as a result of the global crash in oil prices as well as rising incidence of the deadly coronavirus pandemic within its borders.
He reiterated that governments should ideally place its people first and encouraged the Federal Government to embrace the sacrifices necessary to ensure the economic well being of the nation.
“My counsel to the Federal Government of Nigeria is this: put Nigerians first and cut your coat, not according to your size, but according to your cloth. 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. In times of austerity, no nation, not the least a mono-product economy, such as ours, should be living in luxury at a leadership level”, he said.