A war of words is brewing between the presidency in Nigeria and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Atiku Abubakar. 

After President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2019 budget of 8.83 trillion Naira to the National Assembly on December 19, the former Vice President, said the 2019 Budget proposal had some fundamental flaws and also failed to address current realities.

But the spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, dismissed Atiku’s statement, saying there was nothing original about his identified “realities".

"These are areas President Buhari had already identified in his speech.

"For instance, the President recognised that the revenue performance of the Federal Government up till September 2018 has been less than spectacular.

"Leaving aside for a moment the fact that there has been a remarkable increase in Federal Account receipts in the last three months, a look at the budget speech will show that the President specified a number of actions to tackle revenue weakness including strengthening on-going efforts at tax collection, liquidation of recovered assets, immediate recovery of past due oil royalties charges and deployment of the National Trade Window to improve customs collections.

"His most laughable criticism perhaps was his claim that “there is little evidence to show that increased investment in agriculture has yielded positive results”.

"Even the worst adversary of the Buhari administration would acknowledge that significant progress has been made in the agriculture sector," Adesina claimed. 

He accused Atiku of conflating foreign direct investment with capital inflows.

"This is wrong as capital inflows covers foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investments, international borrowing and short-term deposits in money market instruments.

On issue of public interest in the budget raised by Atiku, Mr Adesina wrote: "A most glaring weakness in the statement by Atiku is that he does not take a stance on issues of public interest in the budget, which is utterly regrettable from someone who aspires to lead Nigeria.

"As President Buhari explained, the subsidy/under-recovery has been retained to reduce the burden on ordinary Nigerians at a time of weak purchasing power in a manner that avoids the abuses of the past.

"The truth is that contrary to the belief of people like Atiku that low fuel prices only benefit the rich, a large number of ordinary Nigerians rely on PMS to operate ‘keke’, ‘okada’, taxi, and ‘danfo’.

"A lot of the generators used by small businesses also use PMS. Indeed, it is amazing that a man who has promised 87 Naira per litre of PMS can criticise a process of under-recovery/subsidy that is not being abused as it was in the past.

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"To further show Atiku’s lack of knowledge about basic issues in the petroleum market, he contradicts himself in his quest to make a non-existent point.

He complains about the benchmark price of $60 per barrel used for crude oil exports in the budget and tries hard to show understanding of the dynamics of the global oil market by referring to US shale oil production and pressures on the Saudi regime.

"Yet Atiku expects that OPEC quotas will come into force, in which case the price of crude oil may rise in international markets.

"What is obvious is the fact that low oil prices impact negatively on shale oil production.

"It is therefore obvious that Atiku’s statement on the budget was a poor attempt at playing to the gallery," the statement added.

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