Mixed reactions on Tuesday trailed the 2018 budget proposal of N8.6 trillion, shortly after it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari before a Joint Session of the National Assembly in Abuja.
Some lawmakers expressed satisfaction with the budget which has a nominal increase of 16 per cent above the 2017 budget estimate and tagged “Budget of Consolidation’’.
Kabiru Marafa (APC-Zamfara) said it was a budget of hope and a realistic one, looking at its parameters.
He said “there are various indications that the budget proposal is realistic.
“Also, the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari during the presentation that the aspirations Niger Delta people would be looked into, would improve crude oil production.
“Even with the sectoral allocation, I believe it is a budget for the common man.”
Mr. Marafa assured that the National Assembly would play its role by ensuring that all standing committees worked assiduously to realise an implementable budget.
He added that the legislature would be keen on oversight to check implementation level of projects.
Magnus Abe (APC-Rivers) said the budget proposal was realisable.
He said that from the presentation, every part of the country got something out of the budget.
“Everybody looking for the prospect of the economy got a glimmer of the hope from the budget proposal presented today.
“We need to do what we ought to do not to lose time while we re-organise the budget from January to December, by rolling over some of the projects and plans for 2017.”
The lawmaker, however, added that like every other budget, there were still challenges in passing and implementing it.
He said budget cycle had some procedures and rules that had to flow with it, adding that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was supposed to be treated by National Assembly before receiving the budget proposal.
Mr. Abe said that was not done because MTEF was not presented early enough.
“It will be difficult to implement the budget proposal without taking care of some of those challenges; but outside of that, I believe that we are on track and with all working together, it is achievable.”
On the effect of non-oil sector on the economy, Mr. Abe said from the presentation, the country’s export was beginning to bring in returns. He said if consolidated, it was achievable in the long term.
However, Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP-Abia) said his concern was the implementation of the 2017 budget.
He stressed it was the implementation of the budget that would impact positively on the people.
He added that “I am speaking on behalf of Nigerians as a senator that we should talk more about implementation than applauding the presentation of the budget proposal.
“That is why I am insisting that we should know the level of implementation of the 2017 budget before we talk of 2018.
“On the face value, N8.6 trillion is an increment over 2017 estimate but what is the level of implementation of the previous budget?”
Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa) said the budget proposal was promising and achievable if all hands would be on deck.
Similarly, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC-Delta) said the budget proposal by the President demonstrated that he was up to the task for the remaining term he had in office.
“The President demonstrated that he is capable of running another campaign and govern this country for another four years. We believe in his vision for this country. We are his foot soldiers.”
The lawmaker noted that the increase in funding for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was highly commendable.
He added that “I am excited about that. There is adequate funding for the Itakpe-Alaja rail line. The N150 billion set aside for social intervention is also commendable.
“I am also excited about that even though I am not happy with the mode of implementation of the 2017 budget.”
Mr. Omo-Agege said President Buhari had fulfilled his constitutional obligation and it was now left for the legislators to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.
Also, Peter Nwaboshi (PDP-Delta) commended the President “for his resilience and the way he spoke for one hour five minutes.
“It is a good development that we are seeing our president well. I am really happy about that.”
He, however, said he expected the president in his speech to dwell on achievements in the Niger Delta.
“This is where principally the revenue for this budget is coming from. He should have specific achievements in those areas.”
On the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) not passed before the presentation of the budget proposal, Mr. Nwaboshi said “this is a condition that precedes the budget as stipulated by the Fiscal responsibility Act.
“We are supposed to pass the MTEF before the budget is presented but that was not done.”
On his part, Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Francis Alimikhena, said the MTEF and the budget proposal were presented to meet the January to December target.
He added that “we will treat MTEF first before attending to the budget.”
Foster Ogola (PDP-Bayelsa) on his part said the budget would emancipate Nigerians.
He said “we pray that God will intervene to enable us to have a government that will take care of our needs.”