Opposition political parties yesterday opposed plans by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration to increase or impose new taxes, saying it will amount to shifting the burden of President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure on the people.
The parties said it is astonishing that the APC administration still talks about shortage of funds after boasting of huge revenue figures they claimed they raised from crude oil sales and other government agencies, including Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Customs, Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) recovery, Treasury Single Account (TSA) savings, Stamp Duty, JAMB, National Port Authority (NPA), NIMASA.
Recalling government’s claims that it has plugged financial loopholes and saved over N20trillion, also picked holes in the 2019 budget, alleging that it is laced with deliberate falsehood with respect to completed capital projects for which they asked the President to apologise to Nigerians.
The PDP presidential campaign organisation (PPCO) said plans to impose new taxes on Nigerians who are already overburdened, impoverished and pauperised by the APC administration is insensitive.
The director, media and publicity of the PPCO, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement he issued yesterday said it is disheartening.
“By thinking of imposing new taxes, President Buhari has shown that he is less concerned about the plight of our citizens, who have suffered so much hardship under his insensitive regime that they now resort to suicide and slavery mission outside the shores of our country as options.”
The party also expressed dismay over what it called a deliberate reliance on falsehood by President Buhari in his budget presentation at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The party said, “Nigerians and the international community were shocked as fact-checks reveal that a large part of the claims made by Mr President, particularly on projects he claimed to have completed, were outright falsehood, apparently designed by the Buhari Presidency to mislead the nation and the world.
“The fact-checks showed that most of the projects which Mr President claimed to have been completed do not have the littlest attention of his administration if they exist at all.
“Of particular reference is President Buhari’s claim that he has completed the Ugwashi-Uku Dam in Delta state; a claim, which casts a long shadow on his assertions, as the project has been abandoned since 2015.
“In fact, the Dam, which President Buhari barefacedly said that he has completed, is overgrown with weeds, while the road leading to the complex has collapsed.”
PPCO claimed that the scenario is mostly the same in other capital projects, particularly those in remote parts of the country, noting that perhaps, explains why the President thought Nigerians will not do a fact-check.
“This explained why federal lawmakers booed him during his budget presentation, a development that is unprecedented in our national history”.
In the same vein, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), also resisted what it called plans by the APC-led administration to raise taxes, describing it as shifting the burden of Buhari’s failure on the people, which likely to worsen the already bad economic situation.
The spokesman of the CUPP, Ikenga Ugochinyere, who described the 2019 budget as foundation for the final crash of the economy, hailed opposition lawmakers for interjecting the president for lying about non existing projects.
Ugochinyere, in a statement, said, “The CUPP categorically condemns the tax increment proposal by the government as evil, an expression of lack of understanding of how to solve the revenue problem and plan to make the people suffer for their incompetence. Businesses are collapsing, wages are not being paid and production targets are not met. Yet government wants to increase taxes.
“How this government still talks about shortage of funds is astonishing when the same government talks about the huge revenue figures they claimed they raised from crude oil sales, FIRS, Customs, EFCC recovery, TSA savings, Stamp Duty, JAMB, NPA, NIMASA, plugging of loopholes etc which total over N20trillion. This nullifies their arguments on the need to borrow or raise taxes unless the figures by the government are fake.
CUPP further noted that after a thorough analysis of both the Budget speech by President Buhari and the breakdown by the Minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Ahmed, it is convinced that the budget is filled with unrealistic projections and disjointed projects which lack touch with the needs of the people.
It continued: “The budget is replete with economic projections that will not lift our people out of poverty. The budget is the same style with Idi Amin 70s projection which from beginning was dead on arrival with same government embarking on actions not even in his budget speech or proposal estimates. Hard as it may be for the people, it must be said that the 2019 budget is the foundation for the final crash of the economy.
“The government is running Idi Amin economic strategy whereby he destroys investors’ confidence, makes extra budgetary expenses, lacks a central efficient economic team, uses government institution to attack and destroy business interests of opponents, allows incompetent people to man major strategic economic positions, and allows looting by supporters.
“The government then turns back to predict an economic growth by sharing food at food centres and money inside markets like Prof Osinbajo is currently doing with the inevitable consequences of the complete collapse of the Ugandan economy.
“Some APC lawmakers and hordes of sycophants who the president came to the chambers with applauded him when he successfully took a sip from his glass of water. This they did because it had been a long time they saw the president successfully do anything. Further, the attempt by these sycophants to cover the empty budget speech and incompetence of the president was further exposed during the budget speech by chanting market square songs which led to the final confusion that ended a presentation that was lacking in substance and vision”.
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