Mixed reactions have trailed the presentation of the 2018 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While some senators who spoke after plenary on Tuesday, commended the President, others expressed worry that the appropriation bill fell short of the expectations of the people.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, a member of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, Foster Ogola (PDP Bayelsa State), said the non-challant attitude of the Federal Government is fuelling activities of militants in the Niger Delta.
“The (2018) budget will not bring about emancipation to our people, we pray that God will intervene to enable us have a government that will take care of our needs,” he said.
In his budget presentation, the President had budgeted the sum of N53.89 billion for the Ministry of Niger Delta as well as N65billion for Amnesty programme.
However, the lawmaker wondered why the clean up of Ogoni land is yet to commence, 18 months after the Federal Government formally launched the clean-up of oil spills in Ogoni land.
But another lawmaker Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta State) who also hails from the Niger Delta, commended the President for increasing allocation to the Ministry of Niger Delta from N34.20 billion in 2017 to N53.89 billion in 2018.
His words: “The President has demonstrated that he is up to the task for the remaining term, he also demonstrated that he is capable of running another campaign and govern this country for another four years. We believe in his vision for this country. We are his foot soldiers.
“The increase funding for NDDC, I am excited about that. There is adequate funding for the Itakpe-Alaja rail line, the N150 billion set aside for the social intervention for direct cash transfer, I am excited about that”
He, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of the 2017 budget.
The lawmaker also commended the President for increasing the Sovereign Wealth Fund from $1 million to $500 million.
On his part, Deputy Chief Whip, Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo State) said the Senate would approve the 2018 to 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) before considering the 2018 budget.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja