Sen. Ali Ndume (APC – Borno State) has called for total overhaul of the 2017 Appropriation Bill to address the needs of Nigerians.
He made the call at plenary while contributing to debate on the budget on Wednesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 14, presented to the National Assembly the 2017 budget of N7.30 trillion
Ndume said that the most important ingredient of any budget was details, “however, the 2017 budget lacks details”.
“This is a government of change and for the budget to lack details, this must also change.
“The details of the budget must be considered holistically,” he advised.
Ndume, who decried that the budget of the Senate was not known to the senators, said it was important to let the public know of the budget of the red chamber.
“This is very important because we cannot be taking blames or credits of things we didn’t know of.”
While describing as “catastrophe” the humanitarian crisis in the North-East, Ndume said that the N45 billion projected in the budget for the area was inadequate.
“The international community and the United Nations agencies have donated N305 billion for 2017, yet Nigeria is budgeting N45 billion; there is an emergency situation and the government should do more,” he said.
Besides, he urged the Senate to allocate reasonable sum in assisting the Internally Displaced Persons.
“We should be seen as being serious about the humanitarian crisis in the North-East,” he said.
Similarly, Sen. Shehu Sani (APC – Kaduna State) said that the budget should not simply be a collection of numbers but that of aspirations and values of people.
“Each year it passes through the ritual of passing through the National Assembly and the state of Nigerians as far as their life is concerned experience no change.
“On N1.663 trillion for debt servicing, we should explore the goodwill that Nigeria enjoys today from the international community to seek for further debt forgiveness so as to buttress our economy to address other issues which we are faced with.
“ The budget for education, will this address the decadence in the sector. Will this end the perennial and persistent ASUU strikes? Will it address the basic challenge of our education sector?
“The defence budget of N140 billion. In a situation whereby we acknowledge the fact that the insurgency has seriously being degraded, we need to see a scale down of the defence budget,” he said.
He said that the large sum of money for defence should be used for other issues such as health and education.
On power, Sani said that there was no economy that could grow when the economy was run on generators.
“We constantly see promises and pledges, sometimes modest achievements that we have moved from 2,000 megawatts to 3,500megawatts and then going back to 1,500 megawatts.
“These issues need to be taken seriously; power is such a serious economic component that should not easily be jammed up by Housing and Works,” he said.
On his part, Sen. Philip Aduda (PDP – FCT) said that the N37 billion allocated for the FCT for national priority was inadequate.
“We owe FCT contractors billions of Naira and as such we need more funds to settle our debts,” he said.
Aduda, however, called on the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, to put a tax system in place to generate revenue for the development of the FCT.
Also speaking, Sen. Babajide Omoworere (APC – Osun State) said that unemployment in the country was “growing and there was no growth in the economy.”
“These are symptoms and indices of recession. Government must spend a lot more. We must find means of reducing the recurrent and increasing the capital expenditure,” he said.
“The executive must spend more; the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, there is about N50 billion in the budget for the Bank of Agriculture and the Bank of Industries.
“That is not enough there must be more money. The challenge we have in Nigeria is not about providing this money. It is about ensuring that this money gets to those who need the money, the youths the women.
“This is the only way there can be growth in the economy,” Omoworere said.