Recession: Cut cost of governance, non-essential items from budget, PDP, Atiku, SERAP urge Buhari

By Williams Orji and Myke Uzendu, Abuja

Even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the weekend, described President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as failure, it advised the president to allow competent, transparent and honest hands to effectively manage the economy, to save the nation from an imminent economic collapse.

This was as the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, counseled Buhari to expunge all non-essential items from the proposed 2021 budget to save the nation’s economy from plunging deeper into recession.

On its part, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) warned the President to immediately cut the cost of governance and put the country’s resources at the service of the masses.

PDP in a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan on Sunday maintained that the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the economy plunging into another recession under the APC confirms its stand that the Buhari Presidency and the APC lack the competence and integrity to run a national economy.

“The report shows that the Buhari administration and the APC have been lying to Nigerians with false performance claims when they know that they have, in a space of five years, wrecked and plundered our economy, which was rated as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, when they took over from the PDP.

“Indeed, President Buhari will be the first President, in our history, to score a hat-trick, in plunging his nation into economic recession, both as military and civilian leader.

“The economic recession we face today is a fallout of President Buhari and APC’s restrictive, vindictive and anti-trade policies, bizarre foreign exchange controls and monetary policies that impede growth, an over-bloated public sector that encourages waste and incurable corruption, reckless treasury looting and failure to decisively deal with the escalated insecurity, which has destroyed economic activities in most parts of our country,” PDP said.

The party alleged that while the Buhari Presidency pretended to be running a free market economy, it is in reality, running a corrupt exclusionist market economy tailored to service the interest of a selfish few while frustrating millions of hard working Nigerians with restrictive policies, lack of access to incentives and support as well as high taxes and levies.

On his part, Atiku proposed a 15 per-cent tax on luxury items, adding that the proceeds of this tax should be exclusively dedicated to a Poverty Eradication Fund, which must be managed in the same manner as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, or the Ecological Fund.

The Waziri Adamawa further proposed a one per cent poverty alleviation tax which should be legislated by the National Assembly on the profits of every International Oil Company operating in Nigeria, and international airlines doing business in Nigeria.

Atiku said that the proposed 2021 budget presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2020, is no longer tenable as Nigeria neither has the resources, or the need to implement such a luxury heavy budget.

He said that the current economic recession could have been avoided had a more cost effective budgeting model been adopted by the present administration.

“Yes, the COVID19 pandemic has exacerbated an already bad situation; however, we could have avoided this fate by a disciplined and prudent management of our economy,” Atiku stressed.

SERAP in a letter dated 21st November, 2020, signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said “the current economic crisis provides an opportunity to prioritise access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic socio-economic rights, and to genuinely recommit to the fight against corruption”.

It said that the nation cannot afford getting back to business as usual, and urged the implementation of transparency and accountability measures to save money, address projected adverse human rights impacts of the recession, and fast-track the economic recovery process.

The body noted that decades of mismanagement and corruption, and deep-seated deficiencies in public financial management have directly contributed to higher levels of borrowing and public debts, and consequently, the economic recession.

It lamented that successive governments have squandered the promise afforded by the country’s natural wealth and resources.

“The country’s resources appear to have been used almost exclusively for the benefit of the political elites rather than on projects that would ensure the right to an adequate standard of living, the maximum welfare, prosperity, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality,” it said.

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