The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the last February 25 presidential election, Peter Obi, has faulted the 2023 supplementary budget, saying it’s proof that the Federal Government is uncaring and insensitive to the needs of the masses.
Obi lamented that the budget didn’t capture the “pressing national needs and emergencies” in the country.
President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday, signed the 2023 supplementary appropriation bill of N2.17 trillion into law.
On October 16, 2023, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, said the largest chunk of N605 billion was earmarked for security, to further enhance the capacity of the armed forces and security agencies to address current and emerging security challenges nationwide.
Other items include N5.5 billion for the student loan scheme and over N616 billion in wage awards for civil servants to augment the heightened cost of living post-subsidy.
The Senate, on Wednesday, said it would probe the purchase of the N5 billion presidential yacht and the circumstances surrounding it
The resolution was made known by the Senate Committee on Navy, chaired by the Senator representing the All Progressives Congress, Ogun East, Gbenga Daniel.
However, Obi said for the supplementary budget which ought to take into consideration national needs, to come in at this “late” period of the year, it was expected to include “urgent items of national welfare.”
The former Anambra State governor made his submissions on Wednesday in a series of tweets posted via his profile on X.
While referring to the Presidency’s controversial purchase of a yacht, the Senate’s Sport Utility Vehicles and the furnishing of offices, Obi noted that such an act “portrays a government that is totally uncaring and insensitive to the suffering of the majority, and indifferent to the mood of the nation.”
The tweets titled, ‘Observations on the Supplementary Budget’ read in parts, “A supplementary budget is a budget made for very important national welfare needs of the people which were not captured originally in the main budget or do not have adequate funding.
“Admittedly, some items in the current budget may not have taken into consideration the needs of a new administration, but it is expected that a supplementary budget this late in the financial year should reflect mostly urgent items of national welfare.”
Obi cited a report from the United Nations and World Food Programme which stated that come 2024, about 6.5 million Nigerians will go hungry.
Owing to that, the LP presidential candidate wrote that the supplementary budget could’ve captured such a “catastrophe.”
The tweet continued, “Sadly, the most pressing national needs and emergencies have not featured in the supplementary budget that was just announced by the government. For example, the United Nations and World Food Programme have recently alerted that up to 6.5 million Nigerians will go hungry next year.
“This number is largely from among citizens in Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and Zamfara States. A caring government, in order to plan for the mitigation of such pending catastrophe, can request supplementary budget provisions to cushion those under threat.”
He complained that the supplementary budget didn’t feature any “item of urgent social welfare,” but instead, “the items being made to dominate public discourse on the budget include a mysterious presidential yacht, presidential jets, the furnishing of already lavishly furnished presidential quarters and offices, fleets of luxury SUVs, etc.”
The tweets added, “The government’s overall attitude does not indicate that it is aware that the country is in a huge crisis, nor is the government in tune with the plight of the generality of our people.
“Even worse is the fact that most of the funding for these profligate expenditures will be largely borrowed. The least that Nigerians expect from the government at this difficult moment is empathy and realism, not lavish indulgence.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.