Abuja - The commencement of the debate on the 2016 budget at Senate laid bare the divisions between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the rival People's Democratic Party.
Steering the debate, Senate leader, Ali Ndume, said the budget was a framework to consolidate and add impetus to the change agenda of the present administration.
He said the budget would promote economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction and service delivery to all Nigerians.
“I believe that the proposal in this budget are laudable and are tailored to meet the critical needs of this country at this point of our democratic evolution and to deliver on the dividends of democracy especially the first year of this administration,” Ndume said.
The Senate leader thus urged all senators to support the second reading of the budget and commit it to committees for detailed consideration.
On the contrary, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP), representing Abia-South, urged the government to withdraw the budget as it was "dead on arrival."
He wondered why the government decided to increase the allocation for feeding in the Presidential villa from N580 million in 2015 to N1,7 billion in 2016 despite of the current downturn in the global economy.
Also Read: Senate resumes debate on 2016 budget
Abaribe also questioned the rationale behind the allocation of N3,9 billion for renovation of the villa.
“From the Senate leader presentation, this is budget of change. We all know what is going on in the global economy," Abaribe said.
He said the allocation for feeding in Presidential villa had been raised from N580 million to N1,7 billion.
"This cannot be a budget of change," Abaribe said.
Another N3,9 billion was allocated for renovation of Presidential villa, he added.
"This budget of change is dead on arrival and I urge the government to withdraw it,” Abaribe said.
Ahmad Lawan (APC), representing Yobe North, said the budget was the first in the last 17 years that would allocate 30 percent to capital projects.
He added the present government was borrowing to finance part of the budget because the previous administration had "stolen" the country's resources.
Also Read: Budget amendments: President Buhari's letter
Peter Nwaboshi (PDP), representing Delta North, argued some sections were omitted in the document.
He also questioned the reduction on the allocation to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the amnesty programme.
He thus described the 2016 budget as a "fraud."
Babajide Omoworare Osun (APC), representing Osun East, observed this was the first time the budget is "not about sharing the national cake but baking the national cake."
Philip Aduda (PDP), representing FCT, observed that N7,7 billion was allocated to FCT, which is owning contractors almost N300 billion.
"I wonder what would happen to projects execution in the area," said Aduda.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, spoke against debating issues along party lines.
"The budget is for the people of Nigeria and not for any political party," said Ekweremadu.
He reminded the lawmakers they were elected to serve the people.
"Their political interest should be put aside," said Ekweremadu.
The debate continues on Thursday.
- CAJ News