Obi knocks 2024 budget, calls for focus on citizens’ welfare

By Makua Ubanagu

The 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has vowed to remain persistent in expressing his deep concerns about the 2024 budget, citing its critical importance to the lives of citizens, especially the poor.

In a statement via X on Tuesday, Obi argued that the budget’s numerous negatives have far-reaching implications for the nation’s development and the well-being of its citizens.

“It is evident that there are items in the budget that do not align with our current circumstances, and it is imperative to call for a review and appropriate virement. Allocating our scarce resources to high-priority areas of need is essential for the well-being of the nation,” Obi stated.

Obi took issue with several specific allocations in the budget.

He said, “Allocating N15 billion solely for the National Assembly hospital is unacceptable, especially when it exceeds five times the budgetary allocation to The National Hospital or the combined capital vote of our six major teaching hospitals across the nation.

He further listed the teaching hospitals including University College Hospital, Ibadan; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria; Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife; Jos University Teaching Hospital and University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.

“This disparity reflects a low level of care for the rest of society,” Obi asserted.

He also criticised the N15.3 billion allocation for the National Assembly library project and procurement of books, including the e-Library.

“Justifying a budgetary allocation of N15.3 billion for the National Assembly library project and procurement of books, including the e-Library, in a country without a National Library is very disappointing.

“The National Library has been under construction for the past 20 years, and its budgetary allocation for 2024 is less than 1B Naira, which makes the National Assembly Library budget 15 times more,” Obi wrote.

Furthermore, Obi expressed concern over the allocation of N10 billion for the Senate’s and House of Representatives car parks and the National Assembly Recreation Centre, while allocating less to the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation.

He said, “Allocating N10 billion for the Senate’s and House of Representatives’ car parks and the National Assembly Recreation Centre, while allocating less to the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, is concerning.

“In an era where science, technology and innovation are crucial for the nation’s future, such allocations demonstrate a lack of foresight and basic awareness of global trends and urgent national priorities,” he stated.

Obi called for a reassessment of priorities, a revisiting of the budget, and the elimination of frivolous expenditures.

“This level of insensitivity to the present situation and challenges faced by the people should not be tolerated by any development-minded nation. Every scarce resource must be directed towards productive sectors of the economy.

“It is time for our nation to reassess its priorities, revisit the budget, eliminate frivolous expenditures and channel our resources properly for the benefit of the people. No great nation is built on a foundation of waste and frivolity,” he declared.

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