The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, may have confirmed why he and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakuba Dogara watched seeming satisfactorily Wednesday while lawmakers of their party interrupted President Muhammadu Buhari with intent to disrupting his 2019 budget presentation before a joint session of the National Assembly.
This is the interpretation adduced from his description of the 2019 budget proposal presented by the President as hopeless.
“We all heard the 2019 budget. That is a budget that has no hope for anybody because when you look at the statistics and the figures, there is poverty. If you look at the figures based on revenues that are coming in, there is nothing left, so where is the future?” Saraki said.
According to him, the budget proposal, as presented by President Buhari, failed to indicate how it will be funded.
The President of the Senate handed down the damning verdict in Abuja on Thursday where the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was billed to address some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Saraki, who spoke in his capacity as the Director General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, also said Nigerians lived in a safer environment in 2015 than what obtained at present.
Addressing the gathering of the CSOs, Saraki continued, “There must be an alternative and that is what we hope that by this evening, speaking to our candidate and vice presidential candidate, is not based on sentiments. We are not voting on sentiments we are voting on what is in it 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 will get today. It is about this great country. A lot of you have been making sacrifices over the years”.
Saraki predicted that President Muhammadu Buhari will not attend the presidential debate billed to hold on January 19, 2019, saying however that any President seeking to lead the country should be able to come forward and tell the people what he wants to do for them.
Speaking further, Saraki said, “This is an interactive session. I am not sure whether the other political parties will give you an opportunity like this to ask them questions.
“I am told that one has debated and you already know the answer to that debate. On the second one, I am very sure he is not going to debate. So how do you assess somebody who is not ready to tell you what he is going to do?
“Those days are gone, my good people. The future of this country, a country that leads the continent that is not the example we want to set for this continent.
“The whole world is going in a direction, if you are 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 are here.
“Today is your day, we will sit down and take questions. I hope at the end of this 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”.
Also speaking at the event, the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, similarly faulted the 2019 budget proposal, saying, “When you look at the revenue, we will spend 60 percent to service debts. 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 used it for capital projects”.
Obi said the federal government under the All Progressives Congress (APC) has incurred more debts in three and half years that what the previous PDP administrations incurred in 16 years.
He bemoaned the level of poverty in the country and queried President Buhari for asking Nigerians to tighten their belts. According to him, the Nigerian people have no belts again to tighten, adding, “We now wake up everyday with a sense of helplessness”
Obi blamed present administration for spurning warnings over the alarming rate of job losses and unemployment in the country, saying that the situation could only get worse because the government is not doing the right thing.
Stating that the unemployment rate had jumped from 18.8 percent to 23 percent, the PDP vice presidential candidate said the country is on the negative side of most world indices on development indices.
Obi promised that if the PDP gets elected in 2019, the party would be updating Nigerians with statistics on employment periodically.