The Board of Trustees (BoT) of the ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has called for the immediate reduction of the salaries and allowances of all lawmakers and political office holders in the country as part of measures to save money for the infrastructural development of Nigeria. They made the call on Sunday at the end of a meeting to review the State of the Nation, within the third quarter of 2019, in a communique signed by the BoT Chairperson, Dr. Jummai Umar-Ajijola.
The AAN Board told the Federal Government that to cut running cost, Nigeria must reduce the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as a matter of urgency. “Government also must liaise with the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) to slash salaries of all lawmakers and political office holders in order to save money for the infrastructural development of Nigeria especially now that funding the 2020 budget poses a huge challenge.
“Not discarding the efforts of government in improving the economy, we believe that much more can be done to make Nigeria better and safer for the citizens. We have therefore reviewed the happenings in government, economy and issues of security within the last quarter, particularly as it affects vulnerable groups: women, children, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), and the youths,” the communique said. It said that the cost of governance in Nigeria is disproportionately high relative to productivity and there is need for urgent action if government really wants to improve the situation. It added that the current Value Added Tax (VAT) collection system is ineffectual and porous and that spending VAT proceeds on recurrent expenditure is counter-productive.
It said that the 2020 proposed budget has huge provisions for debt servicing and does not address the high need for infrastructural development given the growing population. “The growing insecurity and volatile environments in different parts of the country will make it very difficult for development programs to be implemented if not promptly dealt with. Climate change is perhaps the most serious environmental threat to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty in Nigeria, mainly through its impact on agricultural productivity. “The rights of communities where mining take place in Nigeria are not adequately protected. There are gaps in mining laws and investors do not comply with regulations. Nigerian universities lack gender-specific mechanisms to tackle violence against students, particularly females and their peculiarities.”
The AAN Board also call for the scrapping of either the Senate or the House of Representatives as a bi-cameral legislature increases the cost of governance. It called for more consultation with stakeholders, as the proposed VAT increase will hike inflation and put more economic burden on the masses. It said that rather than increase VAT, the nation’s tax base should be broadening. It said, “We insist on a thorough appraisal of the current VAT regime and ask FG to account to the people how the proceeds are spent. The 2020 budget should capture adequate funding of Agriculture, Health and Education sectors given their strategic importance. Agriculture employs up to 80% of the population, especially in the informal sector, where the majority of the small-scale food producers are women farmers. The health sector requires improved funding.
“Our health centers, maternities and hospitals lack basic essential facilities and drugs and evidences have shown that increased investment in these pro-poor sectors has strong impact on poverty and inequality reduction, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities.” While acknowledging that the police alone cannot deliver on security, the AAN Board charge the Inspector General of Police to take the battle to the criminals’ doorsteps by re-evaluating and implementing new operational strategies to stem the tide of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry.
It said, “We urge the federal and states’ legislatures to strengthen Nigeria’s legal framework in order to have stiffer sanctions that will deter people from engaging in criminal activities. AAN supports the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities in demanding a review of laws that regulate the mining sector. We demand that the communities’ rights must be protected in the process of issuing licenses for mining. We also call for a robust mining audit to ensure fairness and transparency as well as making legal provisions for artisanal mining.”