FG proposes N120bn for Amnesty Programme, NEDC in 2019 budget


APC, PDP booing orchestra entertains during budget presentation

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday presented a budget ofN8.83 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year to a joint session of the national assembly.

Of the total budget, the president said N65 billion had been  set aside for the Amnesty Programme, N45 billion for the North-east intervention fund and N10 billion take off capital for the North East Development Commission.

 The president added that N15 billion had been earmarked for the recapitalisation of the Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry while N10billion was provided for SMSEs.

The budget, he said was prepared on the following assumptions:$60 per barrel of oil; 2.3 million barrels per day; N305 to $1 exchange rate; real GDP growth of 3.01 per cent and inflation rate of 9.98 per cent.

Of the N9.2 trillion budgeted in 2018, he said N4.59 trillion was spent as at September 30 as against the N6.84 trillion target.

On the performance of the economy, the president said: “This being my last budget to the 8th national assembly, I will review economic developments of the last three years, with particular reference to 2018.The last three and half years have been challenging both at home and abroad. The economy has recovered from recession. We have done more work with less resources in agriculture and social investment; sustained development has been difficult with the current state of insecurity in the country,” he said.

 The president said GDP had increased from 1.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 1.81 per cent in the third quarter of 2018; in creased from $20.57 billion in May 2016 to $42.92 billion in December 2018; inflation rate dropped to 11.28 per cent in November 2018 from 18.72 in January 2017.

On agriculture, Buhari said “we are seeing increased investments in all areas of the sector. Indeed, we are on course to achieve good security in the nearest future.”

On capital projects, he said: “We also prioritized the completion of already ongoing projects as opposed to starting new ones.”

President Buhari also used the occasion of the budget presentation to promise Nigerian workers a new minimum wage which he said will help maintain jobs for the teaming unemployed.

Besides, he said he would set up a special committee to look into the current impasse concerning the minimum wage and come up with ideas of reducing debt with a view to increasing the minimum wage.

An embarrassing feature during the budget presentation was the booing by some All Progressives Congress (APC) legislators who could not get return tickets to the national assembly and some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers.

The Punch reports that whenever the president mentioned each achievement, the lawmakers chorused, ‘No’, a situation that forced the APC lawmakers to clash with their PDP counterparts who they alleged led the booing orchestra. 

 When the president said, “we have weathered the storms and made progress on every front,” they screamed, ‘Nooooo! Boooo!’

When he spoke on the achievement in the area of anti-corruption war, some lawmakers shouted saying, ‘propaganda, which corruption are you fighting’? ‘Grass cutter’.

Besides, while some lawmakers stood up to clap for the president, some yelled ‘Lies, propaganda’

When the booing became unbearable, the president paused and said: “May I appeal to the Honourable members that the world is watching us and we are supposed to be above this.”

Prior to the budget presentation, it was gathered that the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, had pleaded with aggrieved APC legislators who lost the primaries to desist from the plan to embarrass the president.

The lawmakers were said to have planned to stage a protest during the budget presentation.

It was gathered that Dogara pleaded with them during a closed-door session on Thursday.

After the pleading, it was learnt that some of the aggrieved-lawmakers submitted their placards to the senior special assistant to the president on national assembly matters (House of Representatives), Mr. Kawu Sumaila.


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