At a time Nigerians are struggling to survive due to harsh economic conditions, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has urged the masses to prepare for worst times ahead.
Frank is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, said his fear was predicated on the “2022 Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability” recently laid before a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammdu Buhari.
He said since the purchasing power of the average Nigerian has been inexorably eroded by rising cost of goods and services coupled with expected increases in the pump price of petrol, electricity tariffs and introduction of new taxes, the people must of necessity tighten their belts to survive the economic tsunami ahead.
Frank in a statement in Abuja, berated President Buhari for presenting a budget he knows will bring more hardship to Nigerians.
“For instance, Buhari stated that his regime is targeting N17.70trillion as total federally-colle
ctible revenue for 2022. Yet, he plans to finance the 2022 Budget Deficit of N6.26trillion through borrowing thereby pushing up the nation’s debt.”
He lamented that since Buhari took over in 2015, annual budget performance has remained below 30 per cent.
“This is because they are budgets of lies and no one can implement a lie,” he declared.
He insisted that Buhari’s plan to seek further amendments to the Finance Act 2020, is meant to lay additional financial burden on the shoulders of Nigerians.
“This invariably means, among others, that some present taxes will either be reviewed upwards or new ones introduced,” he said.
He recalled that based on the law, which became fully operational on January 1, 2021, Value Added Tax (VAT) was increased from 5% to 7.5% while impoverished Nigerians are now being charged N50 levy on every electronic money transfer deposited in any bank or financial institution, on any account, on the sum of N10,000 and above.
According to him, this levy is in addition to other charges like Short Message Service (SMS), Account Maintenance, etc, which Nigerians are already being made to pay by commercial banks.
He also said that a new way to further plunder the downtrodden Nigerians is the planned reintroduction of tollgates on Federal Highways in the country.
He said when the scheme becomes operational, according to the Federal Government, motorists will be made to pay N200, N500, and N1000 respectively depending on the type of vehicle.
He added: “It is painful that Buhari did not tell Nigerians that as he was speaking to ninth National Assembly and fixing the 2022 official exchange rate at N410.15k to $1, the Naira on Thursday last week (same day) traded at N570 to the dollar at the unofficial (parallel) market.
“The Naira also exchanged at N410.81 per dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) forex window, thereby putting a lie to Buhari’s proposal of N410.15.50 to a dollar officially.”
He recalled that Buhari and Nigerian oil industry have become inseparable since the regime of Olusegun Obasanjo as Head of State.
He said, “When Olusegun Obasanjo became a military Head of State in 1976, Buhari, then a Colonel, was appointed the Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Petroleum and Natural Resources.
“In 1977, when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was created, Buhari was appointed as its Chairman, a position he held until 1978.
“Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a body created by the regime of late General Sani Abacha. He has doubled as the President, Commander-In-Chief, and Minister of Petroleum Resources since 2015.
“I dare say that with the ongoing incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, in line with provisions in the PIA, the petroleum industry in Nigeria will continue to be in the firm grips of Buhari, post 2023.
“The purchase and control of Nigerian power assets by both present and former political office holders is telling in this direction.”
He insisted that Nigerians are terribly disappointed in some opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly who joined APC lawmakers to clap for Buhari as witnessed by viewers during the live telecast of the budget presentation session.
He said: “Instead of them to make Buhari to understand that they were only there because duty demands that they be there, they were apparently carried away.
“One wonders if they cannot borrow a leaf from the way opposition lawmakers in other climes react whenever the President says anything that is doubtful or inaccurate during presentations.”