Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, Thursday tasked Nigerians not to expect much from the 2019 Appropriation Bill, describing the budget proposal as hopeless.
Saraki, who spoke in his capacity as the Director General of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, PPCO, also declared that Nigerians were safer in 2015 than they are today.
He stated this at an interactive session between the PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja.
PDP Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, at the event lamented that 60 percent of the 2019 budget is dedicated to debt servicing of the APC government which he noted has surpassed what was accrued in the 16 years of the PDP government.
Saraki in his opening remark, argued that the budget proposal presented by Buhari on Wednesday has no future because the statistics does not indicate the financial model by which it will be funded.
He said, “Yesterday (Wednesday), we all heard the 2019 budget. That is a budget that has no hope for anybody because if you look at the statistics and the figures there’s poverty, if you look at the figures based on revenues that are coming in, there is nothing left. So where’s 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’s not about what you’ll get today. It’s about the great country a lot of you expect to see.
The Senate President who noted that the President will fail to attend the January 19, 2019 Presidential debate stressed that any President that wants to lead the country and the African continent should be able to sell his blueprint to the people.
He said, “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. A country that leads the continent that is not ready to show example is not what we want 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 will 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.” Atiku’s running mate, Obi, who also faulted the 2019 budget, said “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 capital project.”
He lamented the level of poverty in the country and lambasted the President for urging Nigerians to tighten their belts, saying “Nigerian people have no belt again to tighten up”, stressing “we now wake up every day with a sense of helplessness.”
While he noted that APC administration didn’t heed warnings over the alarming rate of job losses and unemployment in 2017, he said 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.”
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 jobs.