1. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the Public Hearing on the 2019 Budget proposal, which was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the 19th of December, 2017.

2. As many of you will know, we have in the 8th Senate laid a precedence that emphasises citizens’ engagements in matters of national interests, particularly those that directly affect their aspirations and wellbeing. We believe that the citizens are major stakeholders in nation-building, and we have, therefore, since the inaugural edition, resolved to make Public Hearings on the Budget a staple of the legislative process.

3. This interactive session, which is in line with our commitment to making the enactment process more transparent and inclusive, has been convened to allow us consider broad samples of public opinions, explore other dimensions and weigh new perspectives on the 2019 Federal Budget proposal.

4. Of equal importance are the underlying assumptions driving the revenue framework of the Budget, which is still before our consideration. Let me say, once again, that the importance of setting realistic revenue targets and achieving them cannot be overemphasised. It is an indisputable fact that, over the years, revenue performance has trailed targets.

5. The expansionary budget policy in effect since 2016, which was aimed at raising spending and stimulating growth in the economy, was not matched by achievable revenue targets. The corollary is higher and rising deficit as well as a considerable debt burden, all due to an unsustainable fiscal stance.

6. The under-performance of independent revenues is contributing to the strain in government’s ability to meet its expenditure, especially investments in critical infrastructure. This further contributes to government’s vulnerability to higher deficit levels, which have been largely financed by borrowing.

7. Inevitably, one of two possible scenarios will play out if we do not deal decisively with challenges to revenue. These would be to:

i. accommodate higher debt with higher repayment costs, which is not sustainable;

ii. reduce the capital budget, which would mean a slow-down in government investment in critical infrastructure. This, again, does not aid growth or economy development.

8. I have always stressed the importance of setting realistic revenue targets because we cannot afford to rely on borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure.

9. It is critical we shift focus to generating as much money as required for spending, at least for recurrent needs, so loans can be used solely to fund capital projects.

10. Distinguished Guests, it is for these reasons that the National Assembly, in 2017, required that the 2018 Budget proposal and future ones be accompanied by a Finance Bill, which would give credence to the financial proposals of government. It is one way of establishing credibility in projected revenues. This is yet to be done.

11. It is important to recognise that we will not get things right if we do not match budget credibility with predictability. It is in this regard that the National Assembly passed several constitution alteration bills including Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The amendments to these sections are intended to engender timeliness in the formulation and approval of annual budgets, as well as restore the country to a January to December fiscal year. In addition, delays in the submission and passage of the Budget would be a thing of the past. Moreover, the private sector, including local and foreign investors doing business in Nigeria, would be able to plan their investment activities along predictable timelines.

12. Our role as leaders must always be to ensure that we deliver governance results that do not discriminate; and which ensure that all Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity, religion and political stripe, have access and benefits from the dividends of our democracy.

13. With these remarks, I enjoin us to feel free and be constructive in our deliberations, as this will not only enhance the outcome of this interactive session but engender the attainment of the development interest of all Nigerians.

14. Once again, let me reassure you that your suggestions will be carefully considered and utilised in ensuring we pass a Budget that addresses our core development needs in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

15. Accordingly, I hereby formally declare open the Public Hearing on the 2019 Budget.

Thank you for your attention.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections