The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone B has expressed fears over the 2016 National Budget that was laid last week before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While appreciating the timely presentation, NANS however picked holes in the reduction of budget for the education sector by N369.6 billion.
A statement by NANS Zone B Coordinator, Chibuzor Pedro Obi, noted that “This proposal not only falls below the required target set by the previous administration for education in the year 2015 but also goes a record low below the 26% as recommended by the UNESCO.
“In 2015, despite the entire budget of 4.4trillion Naira, Education received 392 billion that is 8.7% of the annual budget. Today, we have a total budget of 6.08trillion Naira yet Education is likely going to get only 369.6 billion that is 5.5%!
“We are sure this amount will go down further after joint reviews have been made by the National Assembly. The 5.5% proposed by the Presidency falls below the 15% proposed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) in its party Manifesto and upon which the Nigerian students massively voted for it. This is the height of national hypocrisy.
“We do not pretend not to be aware of the economic irregularity that has affected the nation’s economy in recent time. However, we believe that Nigeria is what it is today because successive governments have refused to pay serious attention to the education sector.
“No nation attains economic sustainability without proper education, starting from the basic level. Therefore, we believe that if Nigeria must evolve out of this feeding bottle economy, it must invest heavily on the education sector by not only providing quality education but ensuring the policies designed for education are self-sustaining and devoid of political interferences.
“We therefore totally reject a 5.5% budget for education in a budget of 6.08trillion Naira. Let us not forget that the Federal Government has an existing legal obligation to release an annual 200 billion Naira intervention fund to the Nigerian Universities in line with the 2009 ASUU agreement.
“We cannot afford to embark on any union strike in the year 2016 as a result of inadequate financial planning by the federal government.”
The association also expressed shock that the APC-led Federal Government will propose a budget of 6.08trillion to be funded obviously by loan.
“NANS Zone B as the apex student body in South South and South East region not only sees this move as fiscally dangerous but as equally awkwardly irresponsible,” Obi stated.