The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that the region has been shortchanged through the instrumentality of the 2016 Budget, which it said lacked equity.
The Tribune reports that in a 10-paragraph letter dated March 16, 2016, the forum claimed that the North was being maginalised under the current government, stressing that Buhari needed to allocate massive projects to the North in the next three years to ensure that the economy of the area is enhanced.
The letter endorsed by elder statesman, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Sule, read: “We convey to Mr. President our sincere felicitations and pray God to continue to guide you as you steer our national affairs through these difficult times. We have consulted a broad spectrum of opinions in the North, and decided to meet with you and present advice and suggestions that will assist your administration. This is our token contribution to your efforts, and it is made with sincere intention to assist you.”
NEF maintained that government’s spending on recurrent aspect of the budget was also skewed against the North, alleging that 75 per cent of the civil service was made up of citizens from the three geo-political zones in the South.
The letter reads in part: “We have conducted some analysis on the 2016 Budget estimates which Mr. President submitted to the National Assembly. We are concerned over the absence of equity in the allocation of, particularly, capital spending. The three geo-political zones in the North are severely shortchanged.
“For a region deserving greater resources and attention, as well as the political backbone of your administration, this situation will pose serious problems for your administration.
“We advise Mr. President to review the proposed allocations in consultation with the National Assembly. We wish to draw Mr. President’s attention to the fact that over 75 per cent of all federal government public service employees are from the three geo-political zones in the South. This means that virtually the same percentage of recurrent spending will go to Nigerians from the South.
“Finally, we advise Mr. President to flag agriculture and water resources and exploitation of the North’s natural resources and rehabilitation of its infrastructure as priorities for the budgets of the next three years.”