The presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Tope Fasua, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to increase the 2019 budget to N15 trillion to improve the lives of Nigerians.
Leading a group of protesters Thursday morning at the main entrance to the National Assembly complex in Abuja, Mr Fasua said Nigeria has the lowest budget to GDP ratio in the world, with the budget being only six per cent of its GDP compared to the average of 40 per cent for other countries.
The protesters, who were staging their protest for the fourth time at the National Assembly, later submitted a petition to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, for a review of the budget.
Mr Fasua said the petition stated how more revenue can be generated through several means.
“The Minister of Budget has listened to us but we have not communicated officially, though we have seen in the newspapers three days ago, where the minister himself acknowledged that the budget is too small for the economy, and they will see how they can increase it.”
Mr Fasua said the minister’s statement was “too futuristic” and he is concerned about an immediate review of the budget.
“The budget of a country is an important document in any given year,” he said.
Making a comparison, he said Cape Town, a state in South Africa with less than three milion people, budgets $3 billion, “while a country like Algeria is doing $60 billion. He said Nigeria’s budget is $23billion for about 190 million people.
Mr Fasua said Oxfam (an international confederation of 20 NGOs) brought out a statistics about a month ago that showed Nigeria has the worst form of inequality in the world, ranking 157 out of 157 countries.
“Our people have been so dehumanised that they are not even asking for better governance anymore,” he said. “Most Nigerians have been beaten down to the extent that we think that this is the best we can achieve. It is highly unfortunate.”
Mr Fasua had earlier led a demonstration in Abuja and submitted a petition to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning asking the federal government to review the 2019 budget upward to N15 trillion.