• Says technical committee to advise on minimum wage APC,

  • PDP trade words over heckling of president

Deji Elumoye, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Shola Oyeyipo, Adedayo Akinwale, Mercy Apollos in Abuja and Nume Ekeghe in LagosThe vexed issue of subsidy for petrol was a significant part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of 2019 financial estimates to the National Assembly Wednesday, with the president earmarking N305 billion, out of his proposed N8.83 trillion spending plan, for the essential commodity.The president told the 469-member National Assembly at the House of Representatives Chambers that government would continue to subsidise fuel price in order to reduce its burden on the citizenry.

They said this in separate interview with THISDAY.To the Chief Executive Officer of FactBox Company, and an expert in data and information analysis, Mr. Jide Ogunsanwo, said the contents of the 2019 proposed budget estimates does not have what is required to alleviate poverty in the country.He said, “When the 2018 budget was passed, Nigeria’s population was 195 million. In simple terms, last year’s budget was the equivalent of an average of N127 per person every day.“Now, we have a lower budget for 2019 and the population has risen to 200 million, which is N120 per person per day.“So, it is significantly lower than last year’s budget. If at N127 per person last year, more people got into poverty, what do we think will happen when we have a lower budget? So, in simple terms, this budget will not reduce the number of poverty in the country.”To the Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, noted that the impact of the current year’s budget hasn’t been significant.He said, “The price of oil is the problem. Typically, over the years, the price of crude oil has always been about 20 per cent below the spot price, but today the spot price is lower than the benchmark price and with that, the benchmark price becomes meaningless.“So, we need to reduce that and increase the deficit. We need to expand the expenditure. So, we are between a rock and a hard place. To me, what is inevitable and imminent is that there would be a supplementary budget.”Also, a senior lecturer at the Lagos Business School, Dr. Bongo Adi, said, “There is a very huge discrepancy between the budget allocated and what is given to the ministries by the government. I don’t know how we can deal with that situation because it seems like the budgeting system has also become politicised.”APC, PDP Trade Words over Heckling of PresidentThe nation’s two leading political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Wednesday traded words over the heckling of President Muhammadu Buhari during his presentation of the 2019 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in Abuja.The president had presented the N8.83 trillion financial estimates for 2019 amidst cheering from his APC lawmakers and jeering from the opposition-led PDP legislators.Both Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over proceedings, and Speaker Yakubu Dogara could do little about the situation as both parties made Buhari’s outing uncomfortable.Reacting to the incident, the APC said the PDP legislators’ conduct was disgraceful and unbecoming of their status as lawmakers of the federal republic.The PDP, however, retorted, saying his members were entitled to show their displeasure at what it called the compound failure of the APC-led administration.In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Isa-Onilu, APC said by law, respect for the Office of the President or Head of Government in any clime is not a matter of choice but a civic obligation sanctioned by laws.“We condemn in strong terms the action by lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the presentation of the 2019 budget by President Mohammadu Buhari on Wednesday,” it said.APC said PDP should be aware that the disgraceful conduct and actions of its legislative caucus has succeeded in eroding the remnant of the public’s respect, (if any) that the party has in the eyes of any respectable Nigerian.According to APC, the action has further confirmed its unsavoury image in the eyes of well-meaning Nigerians, that the party is largely populated by self-serving and unpatriotic members, whose sole aim in politics is to promote their self-interests at the expense of the country’s interests.“By law, respect for the office of the president or head of government in any clime is not a matter of choice but a civic obligation sanctioned by laws. Being an opposition party or critic is no licence for such wayward conduct by the PDP legislative caucus; most especially against the president of the country,” it said.Expectedly, the PDP responded in kind through National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, who said, at a press conference in Abuja, that the jeering showed that Mr. President no longer enjoys the support of Nigerians across the country, adding that he no longer has any political foothold and could only awaits a crushing defeat in the 2019 general election.According to the PDP, the spontaneous action of the lawmakers, at the joint session of the National Assembly, was a resounding and unambiguous vote of no confidence and unmistaken expression of Buhari’s rejection by the Nigerian public, across the divides, who are fed up with his incompetent, divisive and corrupt administration.It said, “What else do Nigerians want from a president, who has openly confessed his lack of capacity to find solutions to the myriads of problems his administration brought and on that note promised Nigerians more sufferings and hardship in the coming year?“This is more so as his scripted presentation at the budget session was full of false performance indices, claims of non-existent projects, half-truths, bogus fiscal projections, beguilement and new list of fake promises, which Nigerians have since seen through.”The president had waded through his harassment, presenting his estimates, a key component of which was the N305 billion earmarked for the payment of fuel subsidy claims during the fiscal year, the first of such allocation since the administration took over in 2015.Buhari also used the opportunity of the budget presentation to unveil his plan to set up a technical committee to advise the federal government on the mode of funding impending workers’ wage increase.The presentation, which lasted for about 50 minutes was marred by hailing and booing by senators and House members

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