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APC, PDP Contend Over 2016 Budget

There has been controversy between the Nigeria ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and its political top rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the N6.08tn ‘Budget of Change’ presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the 8th National Assembly on Tuesday. While APC pointed out that the budget would give the ruling party the opportunity to fully implement its pro-people’s programmes, the PDP described the Federal Government appropriation bill as a fraud.
The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on Tuesday said in a statement that the budget was an assurance that many of the promises, made to the electorate by the party during the 2015 presidential campaign, would be fulfilled.
This, he said, was because provisions for these were contained in the proposed 2016 National Budget.
Odigie-Oyegun added that the present administration’s pro-people policies would be implemented “full blast” in the coming financial year.
He said, “In fulfilment of APC’s election promises to the Nigerian electorate, the party welcomes the proposed Social Welfare Programmes contained in the proposed 2016 National Budget, submitted to the National Assembly.
“President Buhari has proposed N500bn to pay unemployed Nigerian graduates (post-NYSC grant) and feed school children among other social welfare programmes in 2016.
“A phased Social Welfare Programme created to cater for a larger population of the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians upon the evidence of children’s enrolment in school and evidence of immunization has also been proposed to the National Assembly.
“President Buhari has also promised that 500,000 new teachers would be recruited.”
The statement added, “Compared to the last 16 years of locust, Nigerians are getting a much better deal from the seven-month old APC-led administration. On the strength of these proposals, the future holds more dividends of democracy for Nigerians.
“It is reassuring that the Federal Government has recovered huge sums from looters of our common wealth, which will be injected into the 2016 National Budget.”
The APC national chairman also called for a speedy passage of the proposed 2016 National Budget.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “As the National Assembly considers the proposed 2016 National Budget, the APC calls on members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to rise above political, regional and ethnic sentiments and pass the proposed 2016 National Budget, which is pro-people and in the overall best interest of Nigeria.”
But the PDP described the proposed budget as a big fraud, saying it was an executive conspiracy, which it believed was tailored towards mortgaging the future of the nation.
The party, which was in power for 16 years before it was defeated during the last general elections, also queried Buhari’s decision to borrow N2tn.
Arguing that the deficit was the biggest in the history of the nation, the opposition party stated that it was “the height of recklessness and deceit from a government that trends on propaganda.”
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Tuesday, berated the Federal Government for trying to use what it described as bogus welfare programme and capital projects as conduits to siphon money to satisfy partisan interests, particularly to settle huge campaign debts.
Metuh said, “It is obvious that this budget is an extension of the campaign promises of the APC government, presented as a manifesto, filled with bogus promises, which implementation will be inconclusive, thereby allowing the APC to, once again, deny their promises.
“There has never been any known economy in the world where government deliberately mortgages the future of its nation by borrowing excessively to finance partisan interests while hiding under bogus welfare programmes.
“This is more so as the APC, in reeling out their bogus campaign promises, never informed Nigerians that they would mortgage their future through excessive borrowing.
“We have it on good authority that this is the first in the series of APC borrowings, which would leave the future generation of Nigerians under the burden of huge debts after four years.”
Metuh added that the budget clearly showed that after seven months in power, Buhari and his party had yet to differentiate between governance and campaign propaganda.
He said, “By all standards, the 2016 budget, the first major economic policy outing of this government, is completely unrealistic and duplicitously embellished with impractical predication, a development that confirms fears by economy watchers and investors that this administration is obviously ill-equipped for governance.
“We are indeed shocked that President Buhari and his minister of information have come up with two different reasons for the current fuel crisis in the country.
“While we appreciate the President’s apology, we think it is high time he cautioned his minister as his excessive propaganda and blame game are ridiculing this administration and the image of the nation.
“Furthermore, it is instructive to note the official endorsement of Mr. President of the devaluation of the naira as against his campaign promise of firming up the value of our currency even to the much vaunted one naira to one dollar.
“Does it mean that Mr. President lied his way to power, or that he did not understand the complexities of governance when he was making his false promises to Nigerians?”
Meanwhile, a former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah, has described the 2016 Appropriation Bill as “a robust, seemingly thorough and well-thought out budget.”
Oduah, a minister under former President Goodluck Jonathan, in an interview with journalists in Abuja after the budget presentation, believed that the budget had sufficiently addressed various issues in rural communities.
The Senator from Anambra State expressed the hope that the 2016 fiscal year would set a new path for the country, noting that the President’s speech also touched on areas that included boosting of oil and non-oil revenues.
She also commended Buhari for the move to ensure more efficient collection and enforcement of Value Added Tax and customs duties and the subsidised funding of the agricultural and solid mineral sectors.
The lawmaker added that a careful study of the financial document showed that it would address many of the economic and security situations that Nigerians currently faced.

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