The shambles of Buhari’s initial appointments [appointment of cronies and friends without regard to merit and competence – Buhari himself said he based their appointments not on merit but on long time friendship and loyalty), no appointment of Ministers for 6 Months, non-appointment of critical Special Advisers till date, Non-constitution of an Economic Team of experts, sacking DGs, CEO’s and VCs without due process: these own goals are now manifesting in Budget Shambles and Diabolic collapse of the economy and the Naira.
The chickens have come to roost and as the euphoria of corruption prosecution will wears out and Mr president’s honeymoon ends, Nigerians will critically ask themselves whether they have at last got a Clueless President.
“ALREADY President Buhari is roaming the world capitals cap-in-hand begging for loans to help fight Boko Haram and to fight corruption. And every once in a while, he would also mention to boost the economy. In these rare occasions where he accepts that the Nigerian economy is in danger, his main focus has been on the two pronged wars he is determined to fight and win. One of the reasons for this posture is that the two issues are what the developed nations want to hear.” – Obiajulu Aduba
But are they what Nigeria needs and wants?
Buhari Should Buckle Up
In fairness to Buhari he has achieved many firsts:
Top of which is the fact that for the first time in the history of Nigeria, a president signed and submitted a budget to the legislature and his ministers including his information minister are disavowing the budget. Now that is a ‘feat’
In the history of Nigeria, a budget for a particular year is being rejected for the first time for no reason other than there are MASSIVE FRAUD and IRREGULARITIES in it. Not forgetting how the budget was smuggled out of Senate building and resubmitted.
Minister of Health said that was not the budget his ministry submitted. Information Minister denied some figures from his Ministry. Suddenly the budget became an orphan!
The change you voted for?
For the benefit of this argument, let’s agree that past government has always been passing budgets without proper screening. Now ask yourself, why is this budget under Buhari’s nose and his “saint” Ministers being rejected for massive fraud. Who wrote this budget, Jonathan?
DG Budgeting made a scapegoat
In apparent response to the multiple scandal that attended his presentation of the 2016 budget, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s has sacked the Director-General (Budget), Mr. Yahaya Gusau.
Buhari’s 2016 budget proposals has been widely ridiculed as riddled with errors and provisions which civic groups say may undermine his anti-graft war
In some instances, the same purchase of vehicles, computers and furniture are replicated 24 times, totaling 46.5 billion naira ($234 million), 795 million naira is set aside to update the website of one ministry, while no purpose is assigned to a 10 billion naira provision in the education ministry’s spending plan.
“The key line items you find in the budget are a disservice to the idea that this government has come to represent change.
In a state house press statement made available to Elombah.com today, President Buhari said he has approved the appointment of Mr. Tijjani Mohammed Abdullahi as the Director-General (Budget).
Mr. Abdullahi, a fellow of the Certified National Accountants of Nigeria, and a banker of repute with experience in managing public finance, will replace the current Director-General (Budget), Mr. Yahaya Gusau.
“The new Director-General (Budget) is expected to work with the Minister of Budget and National Planning to efficiently deliver on the mandates of the Budget Office of the Federation.”
Buhari has also approved the appointment of Mr Ben Ifeanyi Akabueze as the Special Adviser on Planning to the Minister of Budget and National Planning.
An SA to a Minister? Ben Ifeanyi Akabueze Should have been appointed SA to the President on Budget & National Planning.
A Minister should have the freedom to appoint his own aides…Buhari should have appointed Akubueze SA to the President on Budget Affairs if he feels his expertise is needed in budgeting…what if the Minister finds no rapport with the aide imposed on him?
Mr Akabueze who is the immediate past Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State, has worked in senior management positions in Citi Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa, NAL Merchant Bank, Sterling Bank and BIA Consulting Limited, among others. He is Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers; Fellow, Institute of Credit Administrators and Honorary Fellow, Chartered Institute of Bankers.
Under a new “zero-budgeting” approach introduced by the government, spending plans were made afresh without building on the preceding budget, according to Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun. “What zero-budgeting simply does is start from the scratch so every single line of has to be justified,” she told lawmakers in October. “The only problem is that it’s extremely complex and needs a lot of time.”
Aso Rock also said unnamed officials sought to embarrass the Presidency by smuggling into the budget proposals such items as vote for Aso Rock Clinic and some communication equipment.
“Most of those affected belong to the “Budget Mafia” in the civil service, which has been uncovered by the presidency. The list of all the culprits was being compiled following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
But the Budget and Planning Ministry in an e-mailed response to questions on Feb. 11 blamed the budget errors and discrepancies on the new budgeting system as bureaucrats grappled with it.
“However, the ministry has zero tolerance for malfeasance and whenever any wrongdoing is alleged, it will be thoroughly investigated and sanctions will be applied,” Charles Dafe, the ministry’s director of information, said in the statement.
Despite the explanations, criticism of the government is mounting with civic groups questioning Buhari’s running of Africa’s biggest economy.
If Adeosun is correct, why was the DG sacked. He and his team should have been allowed to learn the intricacies of zero budgeting.
BLAME SARAKI AND THE SENATE
According to Buhari’s ruling Party APC former Spokesman, Rotimi Fashakin, “it is quite obvious that the issues of the 2016 budget have become vexed; the novel idea of zero-based budgeting has further exacerbated the confusion in the minds of ordinary Nigerians.
It is instructive to note that, with the admission of the writer on his lack of understanding on the essence of the proposed budgetary system, the ordinary citizens’ ignorance on the essential issues around the 2016 may be quite understandable! The conversation of the 2016 budget needs to be expanded to cover the entire gamut of the issues,both visible and subterranean.
Let us rehearse the FACTS again:
1, The current administration came on the strong campaign promise of undisguised WAR on Corruption.
2, Aside the constitution, the important document with the fundamental impact on the lives of the citizenry in any clime is the appropriation law. As such,the regime decided to do away with the traditional ”envelope’ system which was fraught with pervasive corruption. it may be necessary to elucidate on the pervasive corruption embedded in the former budgeting method with this example: In 2000, just the first year of the latest democratic experiment, the senate committee on Information informed the NTA management that its budget had been increased and as such, the government institution should release the sum of N100 million for sharing among the members. Coincidentally, the CEO of NTA at that time is now a distinguished senator. The Chief Internal Auditor pooh poohed the idea that External auditors would easily discover that malfeasance. The Senate committee came with the idea of using a bogus insurance policy to conceal the graft. The money for the committee was reportedly removed in four tranches of N25Million. The padding was done in virtually all the MDAs. Over time, the civil servants too did their own padding, in addition to what NASS often added to the budget. There is the case of an assistant director who has refused to be promoted to Director because of the extra ‘perks’ of the position! It is a matter of time for the administration to do an earth-rending shakeup in the public service.
3, At the initial retreat with the civil servants, the govt announced its intention to spend around N8Trillion. The NASS influenced the civil servants to come up with a padded budget of N9.7 Trillion which, when scrutinized quickly got pruned down to N6 Trillion.
4,In the days leading to the presentation of the budget by the President, some senators approached the Minister for budget not to be so pertinacious about the details. He was counseled to put a booklet of empty papers , with the caption Budget 2016, in the Box to be presented by the President. The Minister thanked them but went ahead to do his job unobtrusively. Of course, the Minister knew that there was no way he could do this because of the President’s integrity.
5, After the budget presentation, a notable TV station called the Minister to inquire IF indeed the President presented a box of empty pieces of papers.
6, Sometime later, the senate alarmed the nation of a missing budget but later recanted that the copies presented to members were fundamentally different from what was presented by Mr President, though the final figures of N6Trillion + was the same in the two documents.
7, The discrepancies emanated from details in the sectoral allocations which, ordinarily, should have been corrected at committee levels. But the Senate chose to make a huge case out of it.
8, At the defense of the budget figures, the padding of some figures was discovered by the Executive and NOT the legislature.
9, The fact of the pending trial of the senate president at the CCT is a cause for worry for the passing of the budget. There is no gainsaying that the body language of the Senate strongman is for the FG to file ‘nolle prosequi’ as a trade off for expeditious passing of the budget.
We can safely say that the 2016 budget is assailed by a number of factors:
1, Technical issues : This is largely due to the fact that this is a novel idea in the nation’s history. Though it is surmountable, it will demand the cooperation of all. Since we concur with Albert Einstein that “a problem cannot be solved at the level of what caused it.” If we all agree that the traditional ‘envelope’ budget system is fraught with many corruption issues and not useful for this level of our national growth, it is therefore useful to apply ourselves to mastering the budgetary system that is anchored on transparency.
2, A corrupt public service: There are entrenched interests in the public service that must be weeded off for Nigerian polity to be well ordered. The govt of President Buhari must go the whole hog to enforce the asset declaration on all civil servants.
3, A non-cooperative National Assembly, notably the Senate! This is by far the most potent of the hurdles on the way of the 2016 budget. One is really bemused at the huge hullabaloo that the Nigerian senate is making out of the 2016 budget. Of course, the framers of the constitution recognized the imperfections of the appropriation bill from the Executive. That explains why the statute book has enshrined the provision of the oversight function of the NASS in the budgetary process. The senate and the House of Reps members must just unobtrusively do their constitutional roles. By all means, Nigeria must move forward.
It was Peter Drucker who said : “the most important thing in communication is to hear the words that are not spoken.” It would seem that the unspoken words by the senate concerning the 2016 budget is the Saraki case in the CCT!
Can we, as Nigerians, speak out clearly that Nigeria is indeed bigger than an individual, nay, an institution. The indefinite impasse as regards the 2016 appropriation law is needless and potentially hurting for the Nigerian state. As such, we need to say enough is enough. – Rotimi Fashakin
If Fashakin is correct, why was a single DG punished rather than a mass sack of the budget mafians and the “corrupt Saraki” and his senate?
Just one observation damaged Fashakin’s argument:
“The proposals for the Villa are just too ridiculous. From the N214 million proposed for a cable linking a guest house generator house to the gate with another sum of N322 million for cable to the drivers’ restroom to N619 million allocated for the installation of electrical lighting and fittings to yet another N372 million for the installation of electrical distribution boards, the whole thing is very disturbing. But that sort of tardiness and frivolous spending are everywhere in the budget where you find scandalous sums of money voted for tables, chairs, cutleries, website update etc.”
Buhari’s defenders are without shame!
Technical issues/corrupt public service/ non cooperative NASS are responsible for budgeting N214 MILLION for a cable linking a guest house generator to the gate?
But the president who signed off the budget and presented it to the NASS? No problem.
“Shame on all educated people like you using one finger to cover the intellectual nakedness of a man without WASC! “- Joe Atueyi
If a government cannot put a budget together after 7 months in power then that Government is a waste of time. For the first time in the history of Nigeria ministers are going before the legislature and disowning a budget signed, submitted , withdrawn , revised and resubmitted by their boss the president. What a shame!
“The executive should recall the budget,” said Ibrahim. “They have to look back at what was submitted, identify the alterations, correct them, make sure they deal with those who did the alterations, and resubmit.”
Other analysts see in the blunders signs that the government isn’t in full control.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre. “It doesn’t seem like the government managed to put together a first budget or has any control of its expenditure framework.”
Let’s all agree that Mr president simply lacks the intellectual capacity to manage an economy such as Nigeria. He is overwhelmed and is running us into a cul de sac. Something will give sooner or later and it won’t be good”