#Budget2017: For Aso Rock or Nigerians? –Ishola Adebayo

February 17, 2017

The essence of a budget is very important especially if it is addressing what should be addressed, which is ultimately serving the government’s purpose of aligning the interest of the common man and make the country serene for all to be happy. Not to be mistaken, a budget is a spending plan. It is the financial structure of how a government seeks to perform its constitution and societal obligations.

Well, the legislators do pass the budget in Nigeria also. The bone of contention is if it serves its purpose, which is ensuring proper welfare packages for her citizens. Many people, if not all, will attest to the fact that the greedy elected leaders we have only fine-tune the provisions in the budget only for their frivolous lifestyles. They wallow in utmost splendor to the detriment of the people who languish in abject penury.

Each time the government brings out its budget plan for a new year, the reactions it generates from the citizens are not of good tidings. In fact, when this present administration came on board, the first budget plan it drafted in 2016 was not anyway better than the previous government.

Public outcries have been made to the National Assembly to undertake a thorough scrutiny of the budget document so as to eliminate the frivolities and wasteful estimates in the document. Funny enough, is it this same national assembly which is a top party to financial misappropriation, regular budget padding and even refusing to make public its own budgetary allocations.

According to an analysis made by Citizens Wealth Platform, CWP, a civil society organization in Nigeria, “a total savings of N145.907 billion would be recorded by the country if the wasteful items are expunged”. What a huge sum of money!

It was stated that N9.525 billion was budgeted for computer software acquisitions and N4.303 billion for the purchase of computers, irrespective of the fact that almost the same sum was budgeted for the same purpose in the 2016 budget; the question is; what happened to the ones they budgeted for in the previous financial year plan?

To make the matter worse, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) has allocated the sum of N432. 193 million for the purchase of cars for the nation’s seven former Presidents/Heads of State and four Vice Presidents. A whopping sum is being used to celebrate the already made men who milked the country dry during their tenure and are even still milking the country of her resources.

The high point of the frivolous budget allocation is that of the State House. The 2017 budget shows that the State House budget for the fiscal year would be N42 billion, with expenditure on food, cooking gas and kitchen utensils expected to gulp well over N850 million. Specifically, N100, 820,300 would be spent for the purchase of kitchen utensils such as forks and knives for use in Aso Rock. The breakdown of the budget for Aso Rock also shows that expenditure on kitchen utensils will be N431 million, food stuff and catering materials will swallow N360 million while cooking gas is expected to take N63 million; making a total of N850 million.

For Office of the President, N114,967,140.00 has been voted for food stuff, kitchen utensils or equipment to take N100,820,300 while cooking gas will consume N21,600,000 million. The budget breakdown further shows that the Office of the Vice President will spend N53, 494,992 million on food stuff, N12,470,000 on kitchen utensils while N246,000 million would be spent on cooking gas. The expected food related expenditure for office of the Chief of Staff is N16, 282,000 while Lagos Liaison Office of the Presidency will devote N140, 418,300 on food and other related items in the 2017 fiscal year. The rehabilitation and infrastructure of security quarters in the Aso Villa would take N284.587 million.

Let’s be frank with ourselves, over 100 million naira to be spent on buying kitchen utensils? Is it that they buy golden plates, forks and knives every day? The hardship bites harder on the streets with people finding it tough to eat meal per day? Do such kitchen utensils expire and rot in a few months, that they needed replacement every year? Sheer wastefulness!

Specifically, in relation to the budget of the Aso Rock Villa, some major differences have been highlighted. These are;

• For cooking gas/fuel, its allocation was 6.3m in 2016 however in 2017; it has skyrocketed to 21.6m adding up to a 242.9% increase. We understand that the world oil market is not smiling but then, proper explanation must be done on how the allocation has risen so much.

• On the issue of electricity charges, 45.3m was allocated to it in 2016 but it has been increased to 319.6m in 2017. A high increase of 605.5%. Wow! We demand to know what happened to warrant this increase between 2016 and 2017!

• Newspapers had 10.2m in allocation in the year 2016, it however sky-rocketed to an increase of 28.3m in 2017 with an increase of 177.4%.

We have said it and we will continue to speak our minds. Nigerians are no dummies; We however call on our legislators to ensure proper scrutiny of the budget before its passage. All crooked ways must be made straight as possible. The hunger on the land is unbearable and highly uncalled for.

The bitter truth be told, this country will never develop until the high cost of governance is reduced to the barest minimum.

As law-abiding citizens, we love our dear country but we hope the leaders reduce the excesses in governance. Till then, let us continue to #AskQuestions and demand a thorough explanation on the increase of the items in the budget. God bless Nigeria!!!