President Buhari has signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill (9.12 trillion naira expenditures higher from 2017 by 22.6%), that is our national budget into law and he has already swung into blame-shifting mode. First, he is not impressed the National Assembly introduced projects (6,403) and applied cuts to those (4,700) presented by the executive. Second, he is informing Nigerians that he submitted the budget in November 2017. Now you ask, what stops him from submitting the budget say in June 2017 to allow enough time for both houses of the National Assembly to work on the revenue and expenditure projections for the country. However, my own view of the budget is pessimistic because it is designed to perform poorly from start. The alibi infused with half truths and usual blame-shifting even as soon as the budget was signed stating that budget cuts will affect project performance is one of the many reasons to be sceptical of positive performance. In my study of project management, there is an approach called earned value management used by the US military, government and hi-tech industries. The question should be, how much can be achieved from the present allocations and would the government actually achieve those within the next budget year? What is the earned value (project plan, actual work, and work completed value)? No articulated and extensive or even a brief review of 2017 budget performance in numbers. What is the budget performance from last budget cycle via budgeted allocation versus actuals? These are indices, which should be the basis of measurement of performance and good governance.
The reason we have Appropriation Bill is for the legislators to have input. The executive doesn’t have a monopoly of the knowledge of the problems and needs of the people of Nigeria. And for the fact that we run a unitary federal system, and the FG takes a bigger chunk of national revenue, it is imperative that our representatives have greater say in how our money is spent. It is not only in Nigeria’s democracy that executive works with legislators to vote allocations for policies and programs and in fact, some policies and programs that require funds sometimes come exclusively from federal legislators and must be accommodated in the national budget which is the only means through which national revenue at the federal level are allocated.
From my observation, there is a subtle and cynical intent by the presidency in highlighting the projects that were affected by budget cuts. Most of the projects affected the South. Weren’t any major projects from the North affected in the cuts? Nonetheless, I am wondering what Southern legislators especially those from my constituency (South East) were doing when cuts were applied to projects like the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu from 2 billion naira to 500 million naira. This shows a great disconnect between the masses and the political class. Basically every person from the South East aside the political class wants the Akanu Ibiam International airport to be completed and function as a full fledged international airport but the legislators that have the power to affect this development positively sat and watched the budget cut for the project. After they wonder why people support separatist groups like IPOB when their presence in Abuja brings no tangible benefit to their people.
The NASS has also increased its own budget by 11.6 per cent. In my place, the person who shares the meat at kinsmen meeting will surely lick his hands. Having approved 9-trillion naira budget, they found it necessary to grease their palms with 14.5 billion naira when there is suffering in the land, IDPs and poverty more than ever before. Imagine how much succour 14.5 billion naira can bring to hopeless people in this country. This amount alone can support over 10,000 entrepreneurs with 1.45million each. But #ThisIsNigeria where the needs of the political class matters more than that of its people.
The signing of our national budget in June 2018 is what I call planning to fail. We have election in 2019 and the country will be engulfed with election fever in a few weeks from the signing and usually government offices experience less activities. Politicians will be away to their constituencies while civil servants without oversight engage in nefarious acts to loot as much as they can because many are uncertain about the future of the present government and what it holds for them in their career. If the present government is voted out in February 2019, another administration would take over and then it must have completed a 4-year poor performance run, as it has not performed above par since it took over the mantle of leadership in 2015. The trouble with Nigeria continues if we don’t elect a better government