From AMEDU JOSEPH, Lokoja

ACTIONAID Nigeria has called for slash of salaries of lawmakers and political office holders in the country in order to save money for infrastructural development now that the 2020 budget poses a great challenge.

ActionAid Nigeria also advocated for the cutting down of the nation’s running cost, through a reduction in the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as a matter of urgency.

In a statement  by the Country Director of AAN, Mrs Ene Obi, said that the senate or the House of Representatives should be scrapped as a bi-cameral legislature, saying that their continued existence increases the cost of governance.

ActionAid Nigeria said that it has followed with keen interest the various developments in Nigeria within the third quarter of 2019, saying not discarding the efforts of government in improving the economy, it believed that much more can be done to make Nigeria better and safer for the citizens.

“We have therefore reviewed the happenings in government, economy and issues of security within the last quarter, particularly as it affects vulnerable groups: women, children, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), and the youths as has come up with helpful recommendations.

The group added that there is need for more consultation with stakeholders, as the proposed VAT increase will hike inflation and put more economic burden on the masses.

Rather than increase VAT, AAN called for broadening of the Nigerian tax base, insisting that there was need for a thorough appraisal of the current VAT regime and ask FG to account to the people how the proceeds are spent.

The statement reads in part said “the 2020 budget should capture adequate funding of Agriculture, Health and Education sectors given their strategic importance. Agriculture employs up to 80% of the population, especially in the informal sector, where the majority of the small-scale food producers are women farmers.

“The health sector requires improved funding. Our health centers, maternities and hospitals lack basic essential facilities and drugs and evidences have shown that increased investment in these pro-poor sectors has strong impact on poverty and inequality reduction, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities.

“While we acknowledge that the police alone cannot deliver on security, we charge the Inspector General of Police to take the battle to the criminals’ doorsteps by re-evaluating and implementing new operational strategies to stem the tide of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry.

“We urge the federal and states’ legislatures to strengthen Nigeria’s legal framework in order to have stiffer sanctions that will deter people from engaging in criminal activities.

“All hands must be on deck to cut down on carbon emissions as a way of combating global warming. We urge leaders to show courage in combatting entrenched interests in fighting climate change and also show commitment in investing in the opportunities of the future. Massive and aggressive tree planting campaign should be embarked on to reduce the effects of global warming/climate change.

“In addition, there should be an explicit national agricultural policy framework, adequate provision for irrigation, drainage, weather forecasting and other agricultural technology infrastructure. Furthermore, to boost agriculture, the following should be prioritized; incentive for training in agriculture, participatory capacity building for farmers, drought resistant and short duration high yielding crops development, integration of indigenous and modern knowledge on climate change adaptation, strengthening of the extension services, and encouragement for the nurturing of existing farmer groups.

“AAN supports the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities in demanding a review of laws that regulate the mining sector. We demand that the communities’ rights must be protected in the process of issuing licenses for mining. We also call for a robust mining audit to ensure fairness and transparency as well as making legal provisions for artisanal mining.

“The 9th National Assembly should revisit and prioritize the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill and Nigerian University Authorities across the country should take preventive measures and protect students, particularly female students by setting up safe systems that protect survivors and encourage them to report and get justice.

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