Economic recession: Atiku Abubakar calls for prudence, reduction in cost of Governance

Economic recession: Atiku Abubakar calls for prudence, reduction in cost of Governance

A former Vice President of Nigeria and Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has called for prudence and reduction in the cost of Governance in a bid to tackle the economic recession Nigeria is currently contending with.

The PDP stalwart made this call in series of tweets on his official Twitter handle @atiku on Sunday.

According to him, the recession could have been avoided had the Buhari administration taken heed to the patriotic counsel given by himself and other well-meaning Nigerians on cutting the cost of governance, saving for a rainy day, and avoiding profligate borrowing.

“Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already bad situation, however, we could have avoided this fate by disciplined and prudent management of our economy.

“Be that as it may, it serves no one’s purposes to quarrel after the fact. We must focus on solutions. Nigeria needs critical leadership to guide her back to the path of economic sustainability, ” he said.

Atiku noted that the proposed 2021 budget presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2020, is no longer tenable considering the prevaling situation.

“Nigeria neither has the resources, or the need to implement such a luxury heavy budget. The nation is broke, but not broken. However, if we continue to spend lavishly, even when we do not earn commensurately, we would go from being a broke nation to being a broken nation,” he noted.

He advised that as a matter of importance, the non-essential items in the proposed 2021 budget must be expunged. For instance, estacodes, non emergency travel, feeding, welfare packages, overseas training, new vehicle purchases, office upgrades, non-salary allowances, amongst others.

The former Vice President noted that until the country’s economic prospects improve, Nigeria should focus exclusively on making budgetary proposals for essential items, which include: reasonable wages and salaries, infrastructural projects, and social services (citizenry’s health, and other human development investments).

He added, “we have to stimulate the economy by investing in human development and increasing the purchasing power of the most vulnerable of our population. Only a well-developed populace can generate enough economic activity for the nation to exit this recession.

“We must invest in those most likely to be impacted by the effects of the recession, the poorest of the poor. As well as stimulating the economy, this also ensures that they do not slip further into extreme poverty.”

He suggested that a stimulus package, in the form of monthly c ash transfers of ₦5000, be made to every bank account holder, verified by a Bank Verification Number, whose combined total deposit in the year 2019 was lower than the annual minimum wage.

Atiku said rather than borrowing, the Nigerian government should impose taxes on luxury goods and services that are exclusively accessible to the super-wealthy, noting that a tax on the ultra-wealthy protects the extremely poor.

“A practical approach to this is to place a 15% tax on all Business and First Class tickets sold to and from Nigeria, on all luxury car imports and sales, on all private jets imports and service charges, on all jewellery imports and sales, on all designer products imported, produced or sold in Nigeria, and on all other luxury goods either manufactured or imported into Nigeria, with the exception of goods made for export,” he said.

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He further advised that proceeds of the taxes should be exclusively dedicated to a Poverty Eradication Fund, which must be managed in the same manner as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, or the Ecological Fund.

He also proposed that a 1% poverty alleviation tax should be legislated by the National Assembly on the profits of every International Oil Company operating in Nigeria, and international airlines doing business in Nigeria, which should also go towards the proposed Poverty Eradication Fund.

He observed that it’s inhumane the government to increase the cost of goods and services that affect the poor while keeping the cost of luxuries fairly stable, saying “we must flip this, and flip it immediately”.

He advised the government to stop borrowing for anything other than essential needs, saying borrowing to pay salaries or to engage in White Elephant projects, is not an essential need.

“The more we borrow, the more we will need cash to make interest and principal payments, and the less cash we will have to make necessary investments in our economy and our people.

“If we keep borrowing, we stand the risk of defaulting, and that will make recession a child’s play because we will lose some of our sovereignty,” Atiku added.

He urged the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to swallow its pride, and accept its limitations, so it they can open its mind to ideas, without caring who the messenger is.

According to the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Saturday, Nigeria is officially in recession.

This is the country’s 2nd recession under the Muhammadu Buhari administration.


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