President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all ministers and heads of federal agencies to hasten the passage of the Appropriation Bill for 2020 at the National Assembly.
Concise News reports that the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, are two of Buhari’s 43 ministers appointed in July.
According to a statement issued by Willie Bassey, Director Information, Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the directive was with immediate effect.
Bassey noted that the suspension of such travels would enable Functionaries and Agencies of the Executive Arm to provide the required cooperation with the Legislature in order to ensure timely passage of the Bill.
“Honourable Ministers who have already secured approval to travel are by this directive, required to revalidate such approvals with Mr. President after confirming the Schedule of Appearances with the relevant Committees of the National Assembly,” the statement read.
“Furthermore, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their Schedules of Budget defence.”
The Nigerian leader had, on Tuesday, October 8, presented the Appropriation Bill for 2020 before a joint session of the country’s National Assembly.
Buhari said that the budget was prepared to strengthen Nigeria’s macroeconomic environment; investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development and enabling institutions, especially in key job-creating sectors.
The budget, termed a ‘Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation,’ was proposed based on a 7.5% tax rate.
Nigeria’s major opposition party, PDP, claimed that the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget proposed by President Buhari to the National Assembly on Tuesday would further impoverish Nigerians.
The party, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, urged the federal lawmakers to redirect the fiscal proposal to serve the interest of majority of Nigerians.
According to the opposition party, the core of the budget remains “hazy, showing streaks of padding, fraudulent duplication, replete with false performance indices, deceptive projections and inexplicable expenditure assertions which create openings for continued looting of our national patrimony by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and persons close to the Presidency.”
The party also criticized the Buhari administration for allegedly not being transparent in the mammoth allocations for “alleged vague projects”.
“Standing with millions of Nigerian youths and women, our party rejects the paltry budgets of N48 billion for education and N46 billion for health and urges the National Assembly to review the allocations in the interest of Nigerians,” it said.
“Furthermore, the PDP notes, as unacceptable that President Buhari, in his budget speech, could not give account of his handling of the 2019 budget and had to resort to lame excuses and unsupported figures, particularly on the various unimplemented subheads in critical sectors of the economy
“Moreover, Mr. President failed to explain why his administration has remained hugely corrupt and how his Presidency depleted our foreign reserves to an all time low $41,852 billion, accumulated huge foreign and domestic debts and kept the naira at its knees at about N360 to $1USD under his watch.”