Members of the House of Representatives have commenced debate on the 2019 appropriation bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari had in December 2018 proposed a budget of N8.8 trillion for 2019.
The president presented the budget at a joint session of the National Assembly.
The proposed budget shows that about a quarter of the sum (N2.14 trillion) will be used for debt servicing while capital expenditure is expected to gulp
A further breakdown presented by the president shows that the proposed recurrent expenditure is N4.04 trillion, statutory transfers is N492.36 billion, there is a sinking fund of N120 billion.
Leading the debate, the leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, highlighted the figures of the budget as presented by the president.
In his contribution, the Deputy Speaker of the house, Yussuf Lassun (APC-Osun) said there is a need to set records straight on issues regarding the budget.
According to him, “as a country, we are not what we think we are which can be deducted from the figure the executive arm of government has been presenting over the years”.
Mr Lassun said that from the figures, “one would think that Nigeria is a rich country whereas, it is a very poor country”.
He said the 2019 budget “was only $28.5 billion when converted.”
Mr Lassun said the Executive could not be held responsible for certain things and “that Nigerians should not think that the country is rich.”
According to him, “if we are 160 million Nigerians, going by 2019 budget, it is 178 dollars per person in a year”.
“We all Nigerians have to start thinking outside the box on how we can develop our country, it cannot be left to the government alone,” he said.
In his contribution, Adamu Chika (APC-Niger) raised observations on the budgetary allocation for the Ministries of Finance, Education, Budget and Planning and the Office of the Secretary General of the Federation (OSGF).
He said there were huge discrepancies in figures that reflected in recurrent part of the budget as against what appeared in the summary page for the respective parastatals.
After contributions from several members, Speaker Yakubu Dogara ruled that the debate will continue on Thursday.