Nigerians have continued to react to the 2018 Budget proposal with more appealing for increased allocation to education and agriculture.The proposed budget was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.
In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday, the citizens said that the allocation to education was still below the UNESCO-recommended 27 per cent of the total budget.
The Federal Government plans to spend about N8.612 trillion in 2018, representing 15 per cent increase over the N7.44 trillion for 2017.The government allocated N435.01 billion to education and N118. 98 billion to agriculture in the ‘Budget of Consolidation’
Mr Dennis Aghanya, Executive Secretary of Anti-Corruption and Research Data Based Initiative (ARDI), said that he desired that education sector be given more allocation.
“I wish education and agriculture got more than were allocated to them.
“Education is the bedrock of development while agriculture is very important for self-sustenance.
“However, the budget, as Mr President said, is budget of consolidation; it captured capital projects more.
“ Efforts of the administration are gradually manifesting; by the end of its four-year tenure, a lot of success would have been recorded.
“With more revenue coming from non-oil sources, the 2018 Budget will be well implemented, even if there are fluctuations in oil price ,’’ Aghanya said.
He urged Nigerians to support and encourage the administration to move the economy forward.
Prof. Lai Olurode, a former National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, also told NAN that allocation to education was not adequate
“ It is a far cry from the UNESCO- recommended 27 per cent. The allocation does not give room for comfort about the future of knowledge industry.
“However, early presentation of the budget is commendable; it is a sign of seriousness and commitment on the part of the executive arm of the government.
“The assumption of $45 per barrel of crude oil is moderate since the global oil market is still dicey with increasing research being executed to upstage the dominance of oil.
“But it is a cause for concern that capital expenditure is almost at par with debt servicing,’’ Olurode said.
Chief Perry Opara, the National Chairman of the National Unity Party, also commended early presentation of the budget, urging that more attention should be given to education, agriculture and youth development.
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of Women Arise for Change Initiative, called for more allocation to capital projects.
“One would have expected President Buhari to deviate from such tradition by giving priority to capital projects which have more impact on the common man’s life.
“Any budget that gives as much priority to recurrent expenditure at the expense of capital cannot be described as bringing any hope to the mass of the people,’’ Okei-Odumakin said
However, she equally hailed timely presentation of the budget to the National Assembly.
Alhaji Musa Umar, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Kano Chapter, urged that the budget should be fully implemented.
“ More needs to be done in terms of our budgetary priorities. Recurrent expenditure and debt servicing gulp about 65 per cent of the budget, while government is battling with ghost workers, unemployment and agitations for wage increase.
“The capital expenditure of 30 per cent may not be able to generate enough jobs in the face of untold hardship,’’ Umar said.He said that agriculture deserved a higher allocation as it had the capacity for job creation.
He advised that the current oil production capacity be sustained by ensuring peace and stability in Niger Delta.Chief Charles Nwodo, the National Chairman of National Action Council, also urged the executive to focus more on implementation of the budget.
Until the budget is implemented, we cannot say that all is well.“The National Assembly should put in place a mechanism to track budget to rescue citizens from hardship,’’ Nwodo said.