Occupy politics may have arrived big time in Nigeria at last. The People’s Redemption Party, (PRP) is urging Nigerians to occupy the National Assembly should the Senate President and the Senate fail to explain the essence of the borrowing epidemic afflicting the government of the day. The party is equally calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently withdraw his approval for what it calls a “lavish, ostentatious and superfluous renovation” of the National Assembly, saying it is wasteful, extravagant and insensitive to the interest of Nigerians. It is, instead, advising the channeling of such funds into projects it says would practically alleviate the hardships of the citizens of Nigeria.
More than that, it is returning to its earlier position in favour of reducing the cost of maintaining the Legislature by either cutting it down drastically or abolishing the bicameral legislature for a unicameral legislature, adding that but for a nation pretending to be a rich, Nigeria’s budget of $35 billion (N10.59 trillion) in 2020 compares very shabbily with her African peers, beginning from South Africa with a national population of about 60 million but posting a budget of $130 billion, 4 times more than Nigeria’s or Egypt with a population of 100 million which is about half of Nigeria’s but posting a 2020 budget of $90 billion, 3 times higher than Nigeria’s.
It considers the approval of N37 billion for renovation of the National Assembly built with nearly N7.5 billion as a misplacement of priority since the sum is in addition to their 2020 budget of N128 billion. Locating the approval in a time frame defined by “excruciating human suffering from hunger and poverty” by Nigerians, the PRP further argues how the planned renovation makes it obvious that the APC as a party does not consider the masses of this nation in its actions.
It is reminding the National Assembly sacredness of the trust of the people and the imperative of discharging this trust by promoting public good which it is saying the current leadership of the Assembly is not doing. “We, therefore, caution the Legislature to stop being the rubber stamp of the Executive Arm by granting all the whims and caprices of Mr. President as we see in the request of additional debts of $29.6 billion. It is important, on this note, to remind our legislators that they were elected to, among others, checkmate the excesses of the Executive Arm, particularly the President”.
But the party’s call for an Occupy Movement style politics is sequel to what it calls the failure both of the Senate President and the Minister of Finance who have commented on the borrowing epidemic controversy to have shown the public how and where previous borrowing have been used or how the rising debt stock may not further impoverish the nation that it says is currently spending about 50% of its revenue in servicing existing debts.
In the statement on “$29.6Billion Additional Debt and N37 Billion Approval for National Assembly Renovation” by Alhaji Falau Bello, PRP’s National Chairman, the PRP contends how further spending to service more debts would cripple the economy and send the polity into further social problems.
The PRP says that, having assigned to himself the role of Chief Spokesman of the Government, the Senate President, Alhaji Ahmed Lawan should, therefore, be in a position to answer questions the PRP is posing about Nigeria’s recent inclination to borrowing.
Among the questions being posed by the PRP are what the meaning and benefits of the phrase “Staple Crops Processing Zone Development” might be as to warrant a $500m borrowing from African Development Bank under Staple Crops Processing Zone Development.
Similarly, it is also asking what the Kaduna State Government has done with the previous N164 billion borrowed; what is the purpose of an additional $350million or $127 billion borrowing for which the government offers no more than the phrase “Development Policy Operation” as the reason and how might Kaduna State Government with an IGR of N44 billion as its only surest annual income service a debt of N291 billion?
“We demand to know from you answers to the aforementioned questions as well as the details of all the rest of the borrowing totaling $29.6 billion”, saying that until it knows these details, it stands with the opposition to mounting debts of $29.6 billion by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) in the last General Election. But unlike Atiku, the PRP is prepared to ask for Occupy Movement technique of pressuring the system to the popular position.
It also argues the right of the citizens of a state to know the details of borrowings such as the amount involved, tenor of borrowing, use to which the funds are to be put and how the borrowings are to be repaid.