Every year the federal government of Nigeria and the various state governments churn out their budget which is an expression of their intent on how to raise money and expend same with the intention of improving or adding value to the overall well being of the people led. People have always looked up to the budget with optimism as an instrument that will remedy some challenges in terms of development.
To what extent the budget has met the expectations of people remains debatable depending on who is evaluating its usefulness
While many has described it as a hollow annual ritual others view it as a manipulable tool to siphon public funds. Irrespective of whatever way it is held, appropriation is a statutory obligation the public officers are required to execute. Budget is a planning tool; its importance cannot be swept away.
The budget is a critical instrument. The economic health of this country is tied to it. It holds out so much for all of us as a nation. But how well do the people that are concerned with it understand this? But despite this well received importance, the budget itself is fraught with a lot of irregularities from the point of processing up to execution.
We are again in that period when another round of budget presentation by the respective governments presents itself and characteristically the same issues that bedevil our budget processes are likely to reoccur. One issue that has stuck out like a sore thumb always especially at the national level is the delay in the passing of the budget each year Sometimes our national budget stretches into more than half the next year before been passed into law.
So much hope is hinged on the budget as if in them we would have eternal life but at the end such hopes in most cases are dashed. We have forgotten so soon the tragedy of budget padding which indicted many legislators in the first year or second year of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. It is not known that any sanction was meted out to anybody in that celebrated financial crime.
We are known to be long in the planning and short in action. How well have we fared in the implementation process? How many percent achievements do we record each year before the next budget period? What is the takeaway from each experience and what have we done to fix the negative outcomes so as to get it better next time around?
The annual estimate is supposed to benefit and transform the people, but the greatest negative discovery is that it suffers a very high degree of integrity deficit especially of those who are supposed to drive the processes. Consequently, it fails to engender confidence in the people thus it is treated as a mere ritual designed to gratify some clandestine and corrupt intentions of public officials.
For instance, it has never stopped disturbing many the issue of the discovery by the Senate Committee on Power of the allocation of 20 new power projects to Lau Local Government of Taraba State where the Minister comes from. This speaks volume on the extent to which he has allowed greed and selfishness override his sense of judgment of what is fair and equitable. Clearly the action represents gross abuse of office and insults to Nigerians whose stakes are sabotaged on the altar of the minister’s greed.
Surprisingly, there is no sanction against him.
Similarly, the allocation of a whooping 1.3bn naira for the State House Clinic which was adjudged paltry by the Permanent Secretary ought to elicit probing questions on what has been achieved in the same establishment with previous allocations. This was the same clinic which the first Lady has described as grossly ill equipped when she sought attention in the place about two years back. She has expressed concern that the state of the place does not justify the huge capital outlay each year.
News Echo wishes to alert the various stake holders along the line of fashioning and implementing the budgets to shun corruptions and all manner of irregularities in order to deliver value to the people. Integrity is key and critical to the success of the whole exercise. Government should strive to deliver on the expectations of the people.
Given the manner budgets are handled in this country it is doubtful if people ever pay attention to this important function of assessment. The mass of the people are illiterate and as usual do not care and even those who should care do not give a hoot. The budget then takes on the description of mere “rituals”.
If the legislators appreciate the importance of an effective implementation of national development, they will take it very seriously. Even when the budgets are passed after such protracted delays it would also be hurried for implementation and very often, we achieve very little sometimes not up to fifty percent, yet we set our eyes on many projections. For sure we cannot have our cake and eat it.