When the Federal Government started to take this digital communications business very seriously, we did not take them too seriously. We were plagued by the peculiar Nigerianess that takes one to new heights of cynicism.
For that, we apologise. Like who knew the day would come for us to have access to several Medium accounts run by Aso Rock, the Acting president and several ministries in addition to a periodic Villa Newsletter and Go-know-how-many Twitter accounts.
And they are all functional too. For example, after the budget signing and before the back and forth between Presidency and the House of Representatives over who can add what to the budget, Aso Rock had quickly shared these 10 things you should know about the 2017 budget:
1. The 2017 Budget Preparation process was a much more efficient process than the 2016 process. There was also less acrimony regarding it, between the Executive and Legislature.
2. The 2017 Budget was collated using — for the first time ever — a web-based application developed by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF). Instead of the traditional method of hard copy submissions of budget proposals, Ministries, Departments and Agencies were asked to upload their proposals to the new budget preparation portal, resulting in a more efficient and transparent preparation process.
3. More than 4,000 staff of the MDAs were specially trained to use the new application, across multiple locations nationwide. To support the deployment of the budget portal, the Budget Office set up a Helpdesk, accessible by telephone and email, for authorised users.
4. President Buhari presented the 2017 Budget Speech to a Joint Session of the National Assembly on December 14, 2016.
5. The National Assembly passed the Budget on May 11, 2017, five months after it was submitted by President Buhari.
6. The next step, which should have been the signing of the Budget by the Executive, was delayed because of disagreements regarding some alterations the National Assembly made to the submitted document — for example the National Assembly reduced proposed budgets for a number of critical infrastructure projects (the standard gauge railway projects, the Mambilla Power Project, the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos–Ibadan Expressway etc), and applied the difference to fund some new projects introduced by the legislators.
7. What followed were four weeks of painstaking engagement between Executive and Legislature, to resolve the differences.
8. The conclusion of the engagement/negotiations is that all the funds removed by the National Assembly from those critical infrastructure projects will be restored during the course of the budget year. The leadership of the National Assembly has assured the Executive that this will be done, through a process known as ‘Virement.’
9. The Executive and the National Assembly have reached an agreement to return the Federal Government to a January–December budget calendar, starting from the 2018 budget. To ensure this happens the Executive has committed to submitting the 2018 budget to the National Assembly by October 2017, and on its part the Assembly has committed to passing the budget into law before the end of 2017.
10. Budget Highlights:
Oil price: $44.5 per barrel
Daily Production: 2.2m barrels per day
Exchange Rate: US$1 = N305
a. Total expenditure of N7.441 trillion, comprising N5.08 trillion in revenues and a projected deficit of N2.36 trillion which will largely be financed by borrowing. (The 7.441 trillion is 143 billion Naira more than the original amount proposed by the Executive when President Buhari submitted the Budget in December 2016)
b. N2.18 trillion for capital expenditure (principally infrastructure).
c. More than N700 billion for investments in roads, rail, ports, power and housing projects
d. N46 billion for Special Economic Zone Projects to be set up in each geopolitical zone