2018 Budget: Cuts By National Assembly That May Affect You
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday signed 2018 Appropriation Bill into law seven months after he presented it to the National Assembly.
However, his signature did not come on the document without some concern.
There are issues he raised as regards adjustments made by the National Assembly.
The document submitted was adjusted by the lawmakers and the President said he noticed cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration.
The lawmakers also introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
All these reductions will have direct impact on Nigerians, but three critical areas that the impact will be felt are:
1. The Health Sector
Nigeria’s health sector need a revolution.
The condition of health centres across the country and worrying maternal mortality rates are there for all to see.
Provisions were made in the budget for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as;
(a) The upgrade of some tertiary health institutions
(b) Transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system
(c) Provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables.
All these were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.
Persons living with HIV have already raised concerns about the availability of anti-retroviral drugs and a cut in the funds needed to provide these drugs will pose grave danger to how they manage their condition.
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more anti-cancer drugs as part of a standardised chemotherapy regimen and a cut in the funds provided for this procedure will amount to continued poor service.
It is happening at a time that the rate of cancer deaths is increasing in Nigeria.
2. Security In Schools
In the last few years, kidnappers have taken their illicit trade to schools, abducting children in Lagos and some other locations.
In the northeast, Boko Haram terrorists have made schoolgirls their targets as was recorded in Chibok and Dapchi.
The situation demands that more security infrastructure be provided at these schools, but the allocation in the budget targeted at providing security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across Nigeria was cut by three billion Naira.
Buhari expressed concerns that this is coming “at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government”.
3. Pensioners’ Plight
When a young Nigerian looks at pensioners in the nation, working for the government becomes a scary venture.
The poverty level is overwhelming and them seem to be continuously neglected.
The executive arm of government is working with Labour to address the compensation-related issues, but a total of five billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
The struggles of pensioners to survive after serving the nation and the poor security infrastructure in our schools that have exposed school children to kidnapping and terrorists’ abductions may continue except a supplementary budget that the President plans to forward to the national Assembly scales through.
The strike by health workers just ended and a similar situation that led to near collapse of the health sector could reoccur.