The Liberation Movement has called on the nation’s ruling government to begin to see education and healthcare as rights for every Nigerian, not as commodities to be purchased from government and private business owners.
The party made the call at the backdrop of the ruling government’s failure to adequately budget for the two critical sectors in the recently presented 2020 budget by President Mohammadu Buhari.
In a statement issued by Bar. Dalan Cbn Dalan, the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, adequate investment in education and healthcare remain the impeccable gateway for sustained economic growth, poverty reduction and equality of opportunities for Nigerians.
The Statement in full:
Having carried out a comprehensive and an incisive analysis of the proposed FGN Budget for 2020 fiscal year; we describe the proposed budget as “making best of a bad situation” in terms of the revenue projections and “making a bad situation worse” in terms of ministry and sector specific allocations.
We consider the budget as making best of a bad situation based on the following:
The total budget of N10.3trn ($33.8billion) comprising expected revenue of N8.15trn ($26.7billion) and expected borrowing of N2.18trn ($7.1billion) is a far cry compared to the budget of South Africa for 2019/20 which is $123.4billion. This depicts a nation struggling for survival.
The budget is 100% recurrent expenditure. The revenue projection cannot wholly cover the recurrent expenses – salaries, overheads and current year debt obligations – of the nation. Total projected revenue of N8.155trn as against (salaries and overheads N4.880trn, Debt service & Sinking Fund N2.748 and Statutory Transfers N557bn). About N30billion borrowing is required to cover the current expenditure.
Revenue from taxation remains appalling. Percentage contribution to the budget from taxation is 22%, Oil revenue is 32%, while independent revenue and sale of government investments or assets is 45%. Tax revenue constitutes 87% of the South Africa’s budget for 2019/20. Clearly, the Nigerian tax system is dysfunctional.
We urgently need to optimise the revenue from taxation to cover the current revenue deficits through a fair tax system. A fair tax system promotes the appropriate tax policy mix and design. It is clear, that the proposed VAT rate increase to 7.5% cannot take us out of the woods. Hence, the proposed financial bill for 2020 requires innovative thinking to address the dysfunctionality in our tax system.
The budget is making a bad situation worse when you consider the following:
Investment in Human Capital Development is paltry. Allocations for Education and Healthcare is just 10% of the total budget, which is lower than UNESCO recommendation of at least 20% of national budget or 5% of GDP for education, while for healthcare, WHO recommends 5% of GDP or 15% of national budget based on the 2001 African Union agreement in Abuja. Education and Healthcare constitute 33% of South Africa’s total budget for 2019/20.
It is high time education and healthcare are considered as rights for every Nigerian, not as commodities to be purchased from government and private business owners. Adequate investment in education and healthcare remain the impeccable gateway for sustained economic growth, poverty reduction and equality of opportunities for Nigerians.
Adequate investment in education would not only help to lift the extreme poor Nigerians from poverty, but would also help to solve the unemployment, unemployability and insecurity challenges in our country. Education and Healthcare are the foundation for productivity, innovation and prosperity for every citizen.
Cost of Governance remains unessentially high. The non-debt recurrent expenditure – salaries and overheads – constitute 47% of total budget, while salaries and overheads of the federal executive bodies constitutes 30% of total budgets compared with the total capital expenditure of 21% of the total budget.
Given the meagre revenue based, we believe recurrent expenditure should be prudently managed. We therefore call for a nation-wide cost reduction strategy for all government institutions. For instance, each State of the Federation should be represented by only four (4) federal law-makers representing North, South, East and West geographical areas of their State.
The rising debt profile and amount for debt servicing are gut-wrenching. Though still within the threshold of debt sustainability framework of the IMF for developing countries; debt servicing constitutes 27% of the total budget and 33% of the projected revenue. The budget deficit is 21% same as the total capital expenditure in the budget hence, without new borrowing; on-going capital projects will remain uncompleted.
Freedom of the press is one of the tenets of democracy. Democracy demands that majority wins, while minority rights are respected through the freedom of assembly and expression. The press or media is the avenue through which minority can exercise their rights of speech or expression. We abhor “fake news” or “propaganda”, though a tool deployed as strategy to win elections in recent times.
Liberation Movement believes that Nigeria needs a fair tax system to be able to adequately fund the budget with the revenue from taxation. Also, government must prioritise investment in human capital development to engender economic growth, eradicate poverty and equality of opportunities whiling respecting the rights of every Nigerian.
Inclusive Foundation Mourns Veteran Actress, Rachael Oniga
Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation has expressed its heartfelt sympathy to family, friends and the entire movie industry over the loss of the veteran actress, Rachael Oniga who died at age 64.
The CEO of the foundation, Chief (Mrs.) Pat Eleto, in a condolence visit to the family, on Saturday, July 31st, said the news came as a rude shock to many, but she believes that the late actress has created a great impact with her career, and her legacy should never be forgotten.
In her statement, Chief (Mrs.)Eleto said:
“It is with a heavy heart that I grief with the family of a sister, friend and adviser of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.
“Mrs. Oniga, is one of our great ambassadors, and we were actually working on a project that is meant for the later part of this year when the sad news of her demise came.
“Death is inevitable, we pray for the repose of her soul, and may God comfort all the people she left behind. We also hope and pray that all her good legacies, be sustained because, she was indeed a pillar of support to our foundation, and also one of veterans that contributed immensely to the growth of Nollywood,” the statement reads.
A native of Delta State, Oniga was one of the ambassadors of Inclusive Social Welfare and Empowerment Foundation.
Alaafin Shuns Ooni-Backed Group Over Alleged Anti-Buhari Posture
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, on Friday, at the last minute, allegedly cancelled an appointment he gave to a Yoruba group, Ooni’s Caucus, on the alleged complaint that members of the group are “notorious critics” of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Ooni’s Caucus, which was inaugurated at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on July 20, 2021, is made of many influential Yoruba persons and is being coordinated by a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun.
PUNCH learnt that Osuntokun led about 14 members of the group to Alaafin’s palace for the alleged 11am appointment on Friday, but after waiting for about two and a half hours, the influential monarch sent words to them that he would not be seeing them.
According to a source, who spoke to PUNCH on condition of anonymity, some of the group’s members who went to Alaafin’s palace with Osuntokun were a monarch, the Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, Oba Francis Alao; a former presidential spokesman, Dr Doyin Okupe; a former commissioner in Osun State, Muyiwa Ige; a former Minister of Defence, Mrs Dupe Adelaja; a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, Oye Oyewumi, Sola Lawal, among others.
A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is also said to be a member of Ooni’s Caucus, but he was not on the delegation to Alaafin’s palace on Friday.
The source, who is a member of the group, claimed that the group had through the Olugbon secured an appointment with Alaafin since Monday, and the same appointment was confirmed on Thursday, only for them to get to the palace and the Alaafin refused to see them on the claim that they were anti-Buhari and were also loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The source explained that the main purpose of the meeting was for the newly-inaugurated group to get Alaafin’s blessings and to possibly discuss the issue of the embattled Yoruba Nation agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, who is currently being held and tried in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The source said, “The Olugbon, a member of the caucus, was the one who booked the appointment, but he said the Alaafin said he didn’t want to see us because we’re notorious critics of the Buhari government.
“He (Alaafin) confirmed the appointment yesterday (Thursday). But when we got there today, he kept us waiting; after a while, he asked to see the Olugbon. He (Alaafin) didn’t come to see us; we were told he said he wouldn’t see us because we are notorious critics of Buhari’s government and that some of us are close to Obasanjo, who is also critical of the government.
“We were made to wait for about two and a half hours; he gave us an appointment for 11am; we got there at 11am and at about 1.30pm, that was when it was obvious to us that he wasn’t coming (to see us). But he initially asked to see the Olugbon, who went to see him for about an hour. When the Olugbon eventually came back, he said Alaafin would not see us, saying we are a group that is critical of the Buhari government and some of us are loyalists of Obasanjo.”
On whether the group’s mission to Alaafin’s palace was to discuss Sunday Igboho’s matter, the source said, “Of course, the issue (of Igboho) would come up but that was not the purpose of the visit. The issue of Igboho concerns all the Yoruba people but that was not our reason for going to him.”
On whether the group would try and book another appointment, the source said, “I don’t know; we were all surprised that a Yoruba oba can refuse to see his children on account of not wanting to be on the bad side of Buhari’s government. I would have thought that an oba is supposed to take everybody as his children, whether they are supporters of Buhari the All progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party or whatever party.”
But when contacted by PUNCH, the Media Director to the Alaafin, Bode Durojaye, said the reason his principal did not see the group was because they did not have any prior appointment with him.
Durojaye said the Alaafin would be willing to entertain the group if they booked an appointment.
He said, “Those who came are men of honour and kabiyesi did not say he did not want to see them. He did not say he would not see them because they are critical of President Buhari or they are former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s men. Obasanjo himself is a friend of Kabiyesi, so you can see that what you were told was not what happened.
“Kabiyesi said he could not see them because they did not give him prior notice that they were coming. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to see them again. They can notify him and he will give them an appointment. You cannot just come and say you want to see him, there are protocols to follow and due process is always adhered to at Alaafin’s Palace.
“There was no rancour, no ill-feeling even when they were going; I was there and I saw them off to their vehicles. If anybody told you that kabiyesi said he didn’t want to see them because they are critical of government or they are Obasanjo’s men, that is a lie.”
NMA Reacts As Bandits Break Into, Pick Nurse At Zamfara General Hospital
Suspected bandits invaded General Hospital, Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Friday, resulting in the abduction of a nurse and caregiver.
Residents said that immediately the men stormed the medical facility, the armed men headed to the outpatient ward in search of a doctor or nurse.
“When they couldn’t find anybody there, they started going from one ward to another. A nurse and a caregiver were abducted. They then moved to staff quarters looking for doctors and nurses but could not find any.”
“The armed criminals had earlier attempted to attack Maigoge, a community located six kilometres north of Dansadau town.
“But when they laid siege to the community, the vigilantes otherwise known as Yan Sakai firmly defended the village. The vigilante killed some of the bandits and injured several others.
“They then invaded the hospital to kidnap nurse and doctors that will treat their injured brothers in the forest.”
Maigoge is one of the few communities in Dansadau Emirate known to be firmly defending themselves against bandits.
“The staff of the facility are not carrying out night duties now. They only attend to patients at day time. They then move inside the town to spend night usually at undisclosed locations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Zamfara state, Dr Mannir Bature, who confirmed the attack said the association is worried by the unfortunate incident.
He said they would hold an emergency state officers council meeting on Saturday.
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