Nigeria: Orji Kalu Criticises 2023 Budget, Says ‘Nigeria Is At War’

“We are not doing anything. We are just a consuming nation.”

The Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, Orji Kalu, has called on the Nigerian government to cut the cost of governance to save the country from a worsening economic crisis.

Mr Kalu stated this during the review of the proposed 2023 budget by the National Assembly.

President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday presented the proposed budget totalling N20.5 trillion, to the assembly.

Mr Kalu, while stating his observations during the review of the proposed budget, decried the country’s deteriorating economy.

He posted a video clip of the review session on his Facebook page on Thursday.

The former governor of Abia State, who now represents Abia North District, said the government must show commitment to solving the country’s economic problem.

“Nigeria is not an exception (in the global economic crisis), but we need to reduce the cost of governance. The cost of governance is too heavy. It should be channelled into the manufacturing sector and the productivity sector.

“We are not doing anything. We are just a consuming nation. We should go back to agriculture if our people want us to come out from the woes we are in,” he stated.

Mr Kalu said the government was not making adequate efforts to address the country’s worsening economy, citing oil refineries that have not been in operation for a long time now.

“How can we see things that should be justifiable in the economy and nobody is doing it? Pipelines are being broken.

“How can we have refineries that are not working? How do we want to earn money, if not borrowing? We don’t have another resort than to borrow,” the former governor added.

He said the country has been forced to borrow to address the ravaging insecurity and worsening economic crisis which, he said, have affected agricultural and industrial productivity in the country.

“We are at war in Nigeria. The wars in the North-east, North-west, the one in the South-east- they are all wars and we have no other opportunity (to grow the economy) because our farmers are not going to their farms. There is no productivity in Nigeria. The industries’ capacities are down.

“Industrialists are not manufacturing. Capacities have gone below six per cent all of over. I have two industries in Lagos. But they are shut down because of economic challenges. The answer to not doing anything is borrowing unless we start producing.”

“Repeated items”

The chief whip faulted the proposed budget, pointing out that some items which appeared in previous budgets were repeated in the proposed budget.

“I am saying that the committee on finance and appropriation need to look into all these yearly reoccurrences,” he said.

Giving an instance, the senator said stationeries and furniture which had been budgeted for in the previous budget were repeated in the proposal.

“What I have seen in this (proposed) budget is what I saw last year in the (2022) budget and it is not going to be good for us. We can’t continue recycling,” Mr Kalu said.

He said it was wrong for the country to continue to buy new furniture and stationeries every year.

“What happened to the furniture and stationeries appropriated in previous budgets?” he said.

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