Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond has said that Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan launched recently by the Federal Government will fail to deal with the lack of the essentials of life, which is the major challenge facing more than half of the population of Nigeria over the next year.
In a statement by Chairman of ASCAB, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), the body said the basic needs of Nigerians are food, health, housing, clothing and security.
The group said the proposal by the Federal Government may appear beautiful in letters but in reality failed to address the class variables.
It said one of the major challenges facing Nigeria was the lack of consultation and inclusion in budget conception and implementation, adding that budgets had become yearly rituals that make no impact in the lives of many Nigerians whose needs, fears and aspirations were not considered before the budgets are drawn.
The statement reads, “The budgets reflect the limited wisdom of those in power, without any consideration for the critical sector, which is the working class and the other main beneficiaries of the budget.
“There is wrong assumption that the government can assume what the people want without consultation with the people. There is a tradition in Nigeria that substitutes the consciousness of Nigerians with the consciousness of those in power. This creates huge contradictions in budget implementation leaving the people at the short end of the stick.”
It observed that the 2020 plan also fails to define in concrete terms the mechanism for the elimination of corruption in terms of contract inflation, peddling of influence, excessive financial privileges of public officials and centralised planning, which undermines indigenous creativity and potentials.
It added, “The Action Program summarised below is needed for the people to survive COVID-19 and beyond. It could easily be funded from oil income, taxation, the return of looted funds and the N5.4trn owed to AMCON.
"Key demands: Significantly increase government budgets for health, education and water/sanitation in line with international norms. This will save more lives than are lost from COVID-19 and this the easiest way to protect the poor.
“End all charges for primary health and education. Cancel all fees for higher education at least until the end of this year. No job or wage cuts by governments or the private sector. Ensure that clean water and adequate sanitation are available at all primary school and health facilities. Schools should only be opened with the agreement of the National Union of Teachers and other relevant trade unions where proper social distancing can be arranged.
“The planned expansion of the social register should be expanded to include all people existing below the poverty line. All defaults on rent, electricity and debt repayments should not result in penalties or sanctions. All households, residential institutions and the homeless must be provided access to safe drinking water, either through public pipe borne water or water tankers, public or private, at government expense.”