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SERAP petitions UN over FG budget cuts in health, education

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the United Nations to request the Nigerian government and the National Assembly to immediately reverse the budget cuts to education and healthcare.

The body also wants the UN to stop the authorities from spending billions of Naira to renovate buildings within the federal legislature.

In the revised 2020 budget approved, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration reportedly gave NASS N27 billion for the renovation of its complex.

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It cut the health budget to N25.5bn from N44.4 billion and the UBE budget to N51.1 billion from the reduced N111.7 billion.

In an appeal dated June 3, 2020, and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP lamented that authorities are putting politicians’ allowances and comfort before citizens’ human rights.

It said the budget cuts show a failure to address the growing economic and social inequality in the country.

SERAP noted that alternative policies and measures, such as reducing the costs of governance, including the excessive allowances for high-ranking public officials and the lawmakers, would have been a more appropriate solution to addressing budget deficits.

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The body stated that one of the pillars of the protection of rights to healthcare and education is the obligation to progressively realise the rights set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It insisted that the budget cuts are of special concern as they directly affect the minimum core content of these rights, and impact directly or indirectly and disproportionately on those individuals already discriminated against or living in most vulnerable situations.

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SERAP told the UN that without its intervention, the Nigerian government and National Assembly would continue to spend the country’s maximum available resources to satisfy the opulent lifestyles of politicians.

The group said this negates Nigeria’s obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to healthcare and education of the poor and marginalized groups.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved President Buhari’s request for a $22.7 billion loan.

The sum is being sourced from the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), among others.