The 2020 Appropriation Bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday is full of unrealistic and ill-advised assumptions as well as false data and manipulations, Uche Secondus, national chairman of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said on Saturday. This is the latest in a torrent of bashing that has greeted the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget.
Secondus said the budget was dead on arrival, calling the appropriation bill another testament to the determination of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to inflict more economic hardship on the Nigerian people through extensive and multiple taxation, including the tolling of major highways.
The PDP chairman also alleged plots by the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
“Nothing encapsulates APC’s insensitivity to the groaning of Nigerians than their determination to increase their pain through extensive taxation, VAT, and toll gates,” Secondus told THISDAY in an interview. “The voodoo budget presented by the president this week clearly shows the regime’s inability to tackle the nation’s economic woes,” he added.
The PDP national chairman explained, “What the APC has done with power in the last five years does not encourage any lover of democracy and good governance to go their way. Earlier this week, for instance, a credible international agency, Oxfam, released a disturbing data showing that Nigerians living below the poverty threshold, meaning extreme poverty, has increased from 91.5 million in April to 94.5 within six months. “This data should not surprise anybody living in this country for the past five years of glaring incompetence and dangerous parochial approach to governance, which has worsened insecurity and endless bloodletting across the country.”
Secondus also accused the APC and INEC of scheming to use the re-run and inconclusive election strategy, as witnessed in the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, to rig the November 16 elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. According to the PDP national chairman, “Intelligence available to the party shows that the All Progressives Congress and INEC are planning charade elections in these states, as was witnessed in Ekiti, Osun, Kano and Kaduna states. They are planning to use the strategy of inconclusive elections and re-run to rig the elections in the two states.
Warning about the dangers of poll manipulation, Secondus stated, “At this juncture, let me warn that APC might be standing on the excitement of its rigged elections in the past and think that they will always have their way in their dubious act. I charge APC leadership to take time and read our political history and know that the routes they are headed are aimed at destroying our democracy and installing despotism. We want to warn INEC that we are aware of their rigging romance with the APC in the November 16 elections in these two states.”
Secondus advised PDP members not to submit to intimidation. He explained that PDP had entrusted the task of reconciling aggrieved aspirants in Kogi and Bayelsa states to former Senate President, Bukola Saraki because of his wealth of experience in politics and his huge managerial skills. Saraki was appointed to head a five-man national reconciliation committee to reconcile aggrieved governorship aspirants in the two states, with the PDP vice presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Mr. Peter Obi, as vice chairman.