2019 Budget is Extravagant and Wasteful Considering the Poor State of the Education and Health Sectors-Prof. Olagoke
Nigerians have began asking questions on the allocation of one Billion Naira for President Muhammadu Buhari's travels in 2019 and 98 million Naira for his feeding for the same period. They argue that millions of people have for several years contended with hunger, poverty and lack of basic amenities, with reprieve still not yet in sight.
In this interview, the Founder, Spiritual head and Grand Imam of Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke says that the 2019 Budget proposal the President presented to the National Assembly is extravagant and wasteful. Excerpts :
The President is to spend One Billion Naira for his travels and 98 million Naira for his feeding in 2019, don't yout think these figure are outrageous ?
Nigerian leaders, generally, since independence till date, have not been able to offer us good governance, if the depreciation profile of the Naira, the increasing profile of the poverty indices, decreasing profile of the citizens' life span, uncontrollable unemployment rate, the increasing wave of insecurity and attendant anti-social antics, are to be considered.
We have clamoured over the years on the need to stem down, with effective control mechanism, wastages in governance and the need for commensurate adjustment to replace the gap between workers' allowances and that of political office holders, their retinue of aides and entourage.
In order that approrpiate funding would be able to get allocated to the education and helth sectors.
To reduce poverty, we equally need to look inwards, to impress all, the rich echelon of the society, to practice the culture of giving or philantrophy, following the examples of individuals such as Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and a host of others, including the Sudanese Mo Ibrahim, who is funding the course of good governance in Africa, with $5 Million to the winner country and $200,000 to the winner President. Is this not a motivation for African nations to practice good governance on the basis of need assessment as well as risk control ?
Nigeria is yet to get motivated and follow the part of wisdom.
It should remind us of the Ethiopian experience under Emperor Haile Selassie who ruled a poverty ravaged nation, but fed his Lion with an amount of money that could easily go round to save thousands of people per day. Critically looking into the 2019 budget, wherein One Billion Naira is to go for the Presidet's travels and 98 million Naira for his feeding for a year, coupled with a host of embarrassing figures to the poor, whose salaires while in service could never total up to One million Naira, not to talk of the meagre pensions and gratuties which may never be paid on time or even perhaps to be forfeited, if the pensioners happen to die, due to the frustrating bureucratic process, it is unfortunate.
It is unfortunate that the figures are in the open at a time when the Academic Staff Union of Univerisities(ASUU) and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics(ASUP) agreements failed with the attendant follow up strike actions forcing our children to take to the streets, roaming about aimlessly.
It is equally unfortunate to come to terms with the figures, at a time when pensioners can no longer support their failing health conditions due to paucity of funds, emanating from unpaid gratuities and pensions-which in most cases could be less than 5 million Niara after the mandatory 35 years of meritorious service for their fatherland. One can now see why the politicians are in a mad rush to get into Aso Rock as President or Vice President at all costs, with no passion for the people who will give them the mandate, but who shall and have always been neglected in return. When they ought to benefit from the dividends of democracy through goal oriented service expected of the political office holders. When politics is made to be less attractive in terms of renumertion, then wisdom and sanity would prevail.
For example there is the need for a downward review of the allowances of political officed holders, Senators, Presidents, Vice Presidents and others. There is also the need to remove the immunity clause for the state Governors and the President for the purpose of effective control of corruption in the land.
A cut down in the number of advisers and entourage of political office holdrers, will ever drastically minimize and curb wasteful spending
The Bi-cameral Legistlature has not really favoured the country in terms of quality lawmaking. If the impact level on the people is to be placed on the scale of measurement, the cost of running the National Assembly would equally be reduced, while attracting serious minded politicians that would be patriotic enough to the nation, by delivering quality legislation, once lawmaking is made part-time.
Above all, thereis the need to critically review through the MINIMAX formula of advantage and benefit at cost effective level- a better alternative between Parlaimentary and Presidential system of democratic government.
For the poverty level of the nation and its people, the budget proposal is too extravagant and wasteful, in the area of political office holder consumption profile and the renovation effect of their buildings when one considers the very poor rating in the area of capital project for infrastructure, provision of basic amenities to alleviate poverty, education and health sectors in particaular as they directly affect the people.
My final poser, is on questioning the competence level of the politicians for system control, with this final question : Is the opportunity to serve the people more for affluence and influence or a determination to impact on the lives of the people positively ?
Only selfless service based on altruitic philosophy can turn around Nigeria for better, through visionary, purposeful leadership and functional democratic due process of justice and equity