National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has expressed displeasure and fears over the 2016 National Budget as was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari
* Rejects borrowing to fund our National Budget
A Text Of Press Statement By The National Association Of Nigerian Students’ (NANS) Zone B On The 2016 Budget Proposal Presented To The National Assembly By President Muhammadu Buhari.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) wish to express its displeasure and fears over the 2016 National Budget as was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While appreciating the timely presentation, thereby giving room for public scrutiny and review, NANS wish to seek clarification as to issues that concern the Nigerian students and the education sector in general.
After a critical study of the ‘Budget of Change’ By President Muhammadu Buhari, we hereby express our fears and worries over the budget as it affects us.
First, it is alarming to note that the budget provides N369.6 billion in total to the education sector! This proposal not only falls below the required target set by the previous administration for education in the year 2015 but also goes a record low below the 26% as recommended by the UNESCO. In 2015, despite the entire budget of 4.4 trillion Naira, Education received 392 billion, that is 8.7% of the annual budget.
Today, we have a total budget of 6.08 trillion Naira yet Education is likely going to get only 369.6 billion, that is 5.5%! We are sure this amount will go down further after joint reviews have been made by the National Assembly. The 5.5% proposed by the Presidency falls below the 15% proposed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) in its party Manifesto and upon which the Nigerian students massively voted for it. This is the height of national hypocrisy.
We do not pretend not to be aware of the economic irregularity that has affected the nation’s economy in recent time. However, we believe that Nigeria is what it is today because successive governments have refused to pay serious attention to the education sector. No nation attains economic sustainability without proper education, starting from the basic level.
Education is the bedrock of every successful state, therefore we believe that if Nigeria must evolve out of this feeding bottle economy, it must invest heavily on the education sector by not only providing quality education but ensuring the policies designed for education are self-sustaining and devoid of political interferences.
We therefore totally reject a 5.5% budget for education in a budget of 6.08 trillion Naira. Let us not forget that the Federal Government has an existing legal obligation to release an annual 200 billion Naira intervention fund to the Nigerian Universities in line with the 2009 ASUU agreement. We cannot afford to embark on any union strike in the year 2016 as a result of inadequate financial planning by the federal government.
Second, we have studied the President’s proposal for recruiting 500,000 teachers for primary schools in conjunction with the states and local governments and we have come to the firm conclusion that this is another unsustainable miscalculation towards increasing recurrent expenditure at the expense of already bankrupt states and local governments.
First, it is not the fiscal responsibility of the FG to recruit teachers for basic schools. So we find it confusing and even contradictory on how the FG intends to carry out this recruitment. Will the teachers be paid by the states, local government or FG, and for how long? Are the states and LGAs financially ready for such recruitment at this point?
Third, the Presidency also proposes a primary school feeding programme, if we may ask, since primary school affairs falls within the fiscal responsibility of state and local governments, why has no APC controlled state started this programme, and how does the FG intend to carry out this programme when the states are not ready for integration? We know of how Osun State once started such experiment without proper planning, today, Osun State is few inches away from being declared bankrupt. We must learn not to get involved in welfare programmes that are unrealistic and unsustainable.
Finally, we are shocked that a Federal Government led by the APC will propose a budget of 6.08trillion to be funded obviously by loan. NANS Zone B as the apex student body in South South and South East region not only see this move as fiscally dangerous but as equally awkwardly irresponsible. How can a country with so much economic uncertainty be so relaxed about borrowing such am amount to fund its national budget?
The very fact that we do not have funds to fund our national budget is an attestation that we are already a failing state and a failing state does not borrow to fund recurrent expenditure, it borrows to diversify. We will not allow the APC led FG mortgage the future of the Nigerian youths in the name of frivolous loans. We therefore rejects the borrowing to finance budget as Nigeria must learn to sow her coat according to the available material.
Having highlighted the above four issues, we hereby resolve to demand that the provision for education be increased from the present 5.5% to at least the 15% as proposed by the APC in its party manifesto. We also demand that before the Presidency continues with the media propaganda of creating 500,000 teaching jobs in 2016, it must first confirm that such a move is supported by the states and is economically viable and sustainable by the participating states.
Third, the school feeding programme must be allowed to be run by the states at their economic capability so as to allow for sustainability and grassroot effectiveness. Fourth, the proposed loan-for-budget-finance should be reduced. And finally, we are hoping that the APC led FG will learn to propose policies based on realistic estimations rather than for the purpose of media satisfaction and unnecessary propaganda.
While we hope that the Government will look into our demands and do the needful we will, like every other Nigerian, continue to hope and pray for a better Nigeria, we wish to inform the Presidency that we have set up a team of critical researchers to look into the foundational cause of the unlimited challenges facing Nigeria with a hope of proffering solutions once and for all. We shall communicate our findings to the Nigerian people and begin a nationwide campaign to implement our findings once we are convinced of our findings as a panacea to our national challenges. The need for Nigeria’s progress is collective and we can no longer continue to risk it being managed by the politicians only. The Nigerian students and the rest of the Nigerian youths are ready to work with the central government.
Long live NANS Zone B!
Long live Nigerian Students!!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Obi Pedro Chibuzo
Coordinator, NANS Zone B