Senator Gbenga Ashafa of the Lagos East Senatorial Zone has called on his distinguished colleagues to unite and corporate together to ensure a successful deliberation on the 2016 National Budget.
While contributing to the debate on the 2016 Appropriation Bill on the floor of the Senate, the senator said that he expected that the coming of the Central Bank Governor yesterday would reflect a sober debate today, Wednesday, 20th January 2016. He highlighted two areas in the Appropriation Bill which were of keen interest to himself and all Nigerians to be the N5000 conditional cash transfer to poor Nigerian families and the plan by the Federal Government to recruit 500, 000 teachers.
On the issue of the Special Intervention, the Senator commended the plan, but questioned how the Federal Government intended to implement the program. He asked that more light be shed on how the Federal Government intends to pay the conditional cash transfer of N5, 000 to millions of Nigerians when the amount allocated in the budget was about Five Hundred Billion Naira. By his calculation, the project alone would cost the Government at least Seven Hundred Billion Naira.
Going further on the issue of the teachers to be employed, the senator also said that the Federal Government needs to carry the National Assembly along on how the project is going to be funded. In his words, “How are we going to get these funds? Are we expecting the states who are already overburdened by the wages they have to pay to take on more?”
Senator Ashafa noted that the commonwealth of this country had been looted by past administrations, but that however the APC is ready to tighten its belt and that the PDP Senators need to partner with the APC in resuscitating a country on the precipice of collapse as the Senate fine-tunes the estimates.
Reaching across party lines in canvassing support for the Appropriation Bill, Senator Ashafa stated, “None of us was sworn in as Senators of our political parties. We were sworn in as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, consequently we need to put our party affiliations aside to ensure that the spirit and intents of the budget is achieved.”
He stated further that “On this side of the aisle, we have agreed to help the president to ensure that the spirit and the intent of this budget of change comes to life. To achieve this, we invite our fellow senators on the other side (the PDP) to partner with us to ensure the speedy passage of this budget.”
The Senator continued by saying that certain critical sectors require more funding that what is contained in the Appropriation Bill particularly the rail sector, which he said was greatly underfunded despite its importance to the Nigerian economy.
He concluded further garnering support for the speedy passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill, in order to quickly commence the special intervention schemes be given to the most indigent & other laudable capital projects contained therein.