In a statement today, May 14, reacting to the 0.6 percent reduction in the budget by the federal government in response to the effect of coronavirus pandemic on economy, Atiku stressed that such minor reduction did not take the global realities into account.
According to him, the best way out of this economic quagmire is to reduce the expenditure, arguing that the 0.6 percent reduction “is only window dressing.”
Atiku, who, on the platform of opposition Peoples Democratic Party, lost 2019 Presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari, recalled that Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than Nigeria’s and with a larger global market share, as well as foreign reserves that is 12 times ours, has slashed her budget by almost 30 percent, the same thing by other oil economies.
“Nigeria cannot make up for the loss of expected revenue by taking out more loans and issuing out more bonds. Debt will be the death of our economy and bonds will put our people in bondage.
“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 budget 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.
“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.”