MIXED reactions, yesterday, greeted cost-cutting measures adopted by the Federal Government to reduce the high cost of governance, and shore up funds for needed infrastructure. The Federal Government slashed estacode and foreign trips for ministers and heads of parastatals and also asked the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC to review the allowances of public office holders, including governors and lawmakers.
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari on the move and said that the jamboree era of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was over.
However, the PDP described the measures as cosmetic, accused the presidency of profligacy and challenged the Federal Government to explain how it is funding the Office of the First Lady.
The measures also elicited reactions from the National Chairman of the United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie; and the Committee for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR.
APC hails Buhari, says PDP’s era of jamboree over
Hailing President Buhari’s decision to reduce the cost of governance by cutting down on certain excesses of top government officials, the APC said the president’s action signals the end of an era that was symptomatic of the days of the PDP.
APC in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, yesterday, in Abuja said President Buhari’s approval of the immediate implementation of sweeping cost-saving measures is aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence.
“Clearly, the era of the PDP’s governments when ministers and other senior government appointees splashed our commonwealth on private jet trips, first class tickets and limousines to ferry family and cronies around are over. Our public resources are now being rightly deployed to address our national infrastructure needs, social investments and other initiatives that directly benefit the people” APC declared.
The party said it welcomes the presidential directive to ministers and other heads of government agencies to suspend foreign travels and defend their budgets before the National Assembly, saying this will not only foster a smooth legislative-executive relations but also ensure that budget passage is speedy and returned to the January-December cycle.
“This is another fulfilment of the president’s election promise to cut the cost of governance, curb leakages, end impunity and ensure adherence to the rule of law by all departments of government.’’
PDP tasks Presidency on profligacy
However, the PDP, challenged President Buhari to lead by example by putting an end to what it called the “profligacy” that pervades his Presidency in order to give validity to his directives to ministers and other functionaries.
The party also urged the Presidency to explain the basis and source of Presidential support for the Office of the First Lady, including the appointment of aides, contrary to his promise not to create the office ab initio.
In a statement by the its Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP held that President Buhari “remains responsible and answerable for his presidential assurances and Nigerians expect an explanation on the violation of such sensitive undertaking.
“While the PDP is still monitoring the implementation of directive to government functionaries on cost-cut, the party tasks President Buhari to take the first step by immediately fulfilling his promise to reduce the Presidential fleet, as well as cut his over-bloated entourages and curtail the opulent lifestyle in the Presidency, which is daily flaunted before suffering and impoverished Nigerians.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the Buhari Presidency has proven to be extremely expensive and a major draining pipe for valuable resources, while millions of compatriots, who look up to government for solutions, wallow in hunger and acute poverty.”
Continuing, the party maintained that “the profligacy that permeates the Buhari Presidency had further manifested in the public fight between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, and President Buhari’s nephews over issues of opulent accommodation in our presidential villa.
“The party further urges Nigerians to note that the Buhari Presidency has failed to make the details of its budget public, despite demands by our party and other well-meaning groups in Nigeria.
“The failure to make the details of the Presidency budget public places a huge burden on the Buhari Presidency, particularly in the face of allegations of budgetary corruption and financial sleazes. Unless the Presidency budget is made public for Nigerians to see, any directive on cost-cut remains cosmetic.”
Cutting salaries, allowances of public office holders inevitable – Chekwas
Speaking on the issue, Chief Okorie said the need to drastically cut huge salaries of political office holders is inevitable.
His words: “The 2020 Budget Estimates presented recently to the National Assembly by President Buhari aroused public consciousness on the avoidable constraints and strain imposed by the government’s desire and promise to develop and expand the economy as well as create jobs for the ever burgeoning population of unemployed citizens by an unacceptable recurrent estimates of about 76 percent.
“The need for a radical and proactive action to drastically cut down on the huge salaries and allowances of Political and Public office holders has become compelling and inevitable. This time also calls for willing sacrifices by the affected political and public office holders.
“It is commendable that the initiative to reduce recurrent expenditures to bearable proportion is from the Presidency but I had expected that the RMAFC ought to have initiated these proposals in the build-up to preparing the 2020 Budget Estimates. In this way the criticisms that followed the budget presentation would have not been as virulent as has been the case. I am confident that the Presidential Economic Advisory Committee will come handy in advising the President on other practical measures to expand the economy, boost revenue generation, create jobs and plug wasteful leakages.
“I further anticipate that with the welcome collaboration between the Executive and Legislative arms of Government and the return of Nigeria’s budget cycle from January to December, the 2020 budget implementation may record an impressive performance of about 70 percent. The prospects for reasonable economic growth in 2020 are very bright. President Buhari needs the full cooperation of all Nigerians irrespective of political persuasion imposed on the Government’s.”
The review is a question of law – Malachy CDHR
Meantime, President of the CDHR, Barrister Malachy Ugwummadu maintained that such review is He said: “If it’s a review captured by the minimum wage regime, then it is a question of law that is the Minimum Wage Act which imposes a review period of every five years. Otherwise the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission under Paragraph N, specifically S. 32(b) and (d), Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution is both saddled and empowered to (b) Review, from time to time, the revenue allocation formulae and principles in operation to ensure conformity with changing realities:
“Provided that any revenue formula which has been accepted by an Act of the National Assembly shall remain in force for a period of not less than five years from the date of commencement of the Act;
“(d) Determine the remuneration appropriate for political office holders, including the President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Special Advisers legislators and the holders of the offices mentioned in section 84 and 124 of this Constitution
“The sensibility of the matter would be better balanced if and when there’s a corresponding review of the remuneration of workers in line with the existing economic realities of today without the present ding-dong between the Government and Labour.”
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