The atmosphere was charged yesterday as Nigerians at the special Town Hall meeting in Abuja, confronted nine ministers, demanding for quick remedy to the current economic hardship.
Participants at the special Town Hall meeting organized by Ministry of Information and Culture, in Abuja, confronted nine ministers and demanded for quick remedy to the current economic hardship being faced in the country.
According to a report by Vanguard, some of the aggrieved participants of the event organized in collaboration with the Alumni Association of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies(AANI), told the ministers that Nigerians were tired of the talkshops and that government should do more to put food on their tables.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who spoke at the meeting, said 2017 Budget would be submitted to the National Assembly by October this year adding that necessary consultations on preparing the 2017 budget are ongoing.
The minister also disclosed that the Buhari-led government had already released N331.5 billion to date, as part of capital allocation of the 2016 budget, to key ministries covering sectors that will turn around the economy, adding that the ministries that received the capital released were power, works and housing, defence and security, water resources, transportation, agriculture and Niger Delta.
The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who presented his scorecard at the meeting, told the audience that the present administration had been able to reverse the negative trend of spending the bigger chunk of its annual budget on recurrent expenditure to capital by increasing the vote from 10-15 per cent to 30 per cent in the 2016 budget.
He, however, disclosed that the Federal Government was ready to release additional N100,00 billion for capital expenditure, in addition to the N331 billion earlier released in June. Of the N331 billion, Fashola said his ministry received N102 billion as at July 29, and had paid N70 billion to contractors, project managers, consultant, who had not received money for about two and half years.
He said: “We are paying out, with the understanding that they will begin to bring back all the workers they have laid off. That is the way to go, and out of this recession. We are not doing anything usual, but working with thinner resources to do more.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on his part, said the Federal Government had adopted ranching as the only remedy to the lingering farmers and herdsmen crisis in the country.
The minister who traced the problem to the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, of Babangida’s administration of 1986, pointed out that “the situation in Nigeria at present did not start today.”
“This recession started long time ago in 1986, when the then federal government introduced structural adjustment programme. Then we threw our doors open for all kinds of importation,” he said.