Praise God! President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2016 budget after five months of dragging here and there between the executive and the legislative arm of government. Mr. Buhari signed into law a total of N6.06 trillion last week Friday, after a series of crisis, disagreement about the content of the budget. So finally we can breathe a sigh of relief, isn’t it?
President Buhari and his economic team should be lauded for meticulously reviewing and re-reviewing the highly altered 2016 budget. In the past, ‘Ghana-must-go-bags’ could have exchanged hands in order to facilitate easy passage of the budget. Both arms of government are not trustworthy, in fact, both don’t trust each other. Hence there is always a common ground or concession to facilitate what ordinarily should be rejected by both parties, bringing us to the concept of ‘trade by barter’—the executive through top government officials persuades the legislature ensuring that all their fabricated projects or falsified figures pass through legislative scrutiny. In turn, the legislature will also include their extravagant spending in the budget, leaving little or no room for any inclusion of realistic capital projects for the people of Nigeria.
The government system in Nigeria entails all forms of bureaucratic stages to scrutinize every inclusion of the budget. It is however surprising that the gatekeepers in charge of checkmating the excesses of the executive arm of government are also part of the looting spree. In other words, there was no real budget all this while, what we have been calling budget is just an empty document ridden with fabrications and all sorts of falsehood to give Nigerians a futile hope. It is, therefore, not shocking that passing the 2016 budget became a serious crisis among the stakeholders in government as efforts were geared to inflate the appropriation bill (budget padding).
Notwithstanding, as related to the previous government, the biggest problem of budget in Nigeria is its implementation. Over 75% of the budget is always expended on reoccurring expenses—expenditure on salary, maintenance of government institutions and other essential services. As it is the norm in Nigeria, provision for capital projects in the budget does not amount to something tangible. Capital fund of this nature is recycled back into the hands of government officials and sycophants, and some sacred cows that are well connected.
However, the government of Buhari ushers in a new hope or better yet, a new dimension in the scheme of budgeting for the country. The norm is no longer the same, bringing a feeling of antipathy in revolt to the new paradigm shift on the appropriation of the nation’s budget. The ‘change mantra’ brought some form of financial discipline to the polity which must have propped up the robust discontent against the executive decisions of Buhari by heavyweights in the government system who are more inclined to the old paradigm of doing things.
The country is yet to recover from the heist recorded in the previous administration and some unscrupulous elements are still interested in replicating the same pattern all over again. Since we now know the root of our economic misfortune, it is time we get down to serious business and make the business of government profitable for all of us. To whom much is given, much is expected. Much trust was reposed in President Buhari for his personality, but much is yet to be achieved since the inception of his administration. By May 29, his administration would be celebrating one year in office, but governance is still at lowest ebb. For the past 6 months market commodities and economic indicators have not fared well. More political-will is needed from this government in order to protect their over-rated change mantra.
Although one should not, entirely, judge a book by its cover, but first impression lingers in the mind of people. The impression the APC-led government is showing is that, they are incapable of finding a rapid solution to the problems of Nigeria as promised during their election campaign. The present condition of Nigerians demand speedy attention to security of life and property, constant power supply, unemployment, and other sundry issues needing urgent intervention by the government of Buhari.
The APC government is beginning to lose credibility even among their staunch supporters owing to the slow pace of developmental activities in the country. Ironically, Babatunde Fashola, a serving minister in this government once said that a reasonable government should be able to provide basic amenities like power, water etc. for its citizens in six months. Thus, a government that cannot solve the problem of its citizens within a short period of time is not worthy of being re-elected to power, or even to be voted for by the people in the first instance.
Even though there is always a long term plan in government, but having a short term plan to quickly ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians is most desired at the moment. President Buhari should sit up and ensure that no stone is left unturned to guarantee the progress of this country. Now that he has appended his signature to the 2016 budget, can we begin to see the dividends of democracy?
- Can we have a holistic anti-graft war to fish out looters?
- Can we begin to enjoy constant power supply?
- Can we begin to see food on our tables?
- Can we begin to see job creation?
- Can we begin to have or see enabling environment for foreign direct investment?
- Can we begin to have fuel readily available in our filling stations?
- Can we begin to have drinkable water in our homes?
- Can the sporadic increase in price of food or commodities, all the same, nosedive sporadically?
- Can we begin to see political stability?
- Can we begin to see economic stability?
- Can we begin to see ICT hubs in geopolitical zones of the country as promised by the Vice President?
- Can we begin to have a transparent scholarship scheme to cater for the less privileged but brilliant ones?
The next two years will justify whether to vote the government of Buhari in power again or not.
What do you think?
Mr_Odunayo Bankole is a multimedia professional. His brand of journalism is both liberal and conservative. A broadcast major, he is very passionate about online journalism and digital media. Feedback—email@example.com