The Federal Government’s 2016 Budget details have finally been published. Well, it depends on what and whom you believe; if you’re one of those who believe words emanating from the lie-painted balconies of Aso Rock and/or the National Assembly, you would most definitely be in company of more than 500 men and women (including the President) himself who after embarrassing the country with the news of a “Missing Budget” have decided to take things a few notches higher, to what one can only most recently find in the propagandist and disinformation era of the Soviet Union in the days of Lenin and Stalin, by declaring that we have “two different budgets”.
That being said, I do not view from Aso Rock or the National Assembly, as I think it is filled with a bunch of “Taradiddles” – I view from the website of the Budget Office where a 1,810-page document was posted with the title “Consolidated Appropriation Bill Details 2016”.
“Fellow Nigerians,” the 2016 Budget totals 6,077,680,000,000; 4,475,290,000,000 is the total Recurrent Expenditure, while 1,602,390,000,000 is the total Capital Expenditure. In the coming days, weeks, or even months (it depends on how the spirit leads) I’ll be doing a series on the budget, highlighting areas I think will interest you—let’s say areas I see prospects of being conduits for corrupt dealings, areas I think we should focus more on, and some funny in-betweens.
I’ll begin this series with the Presidency. The amount budgeted for the Presidency stands at 39,124,978,811; 19,969,489,292 goes to Recurrent Expenditure while 19,155,489,519 has been set aside for Capital Expenditure.
So as not to confuse the reader, I’ll like to make it a point of note, that the Presidency doesn’t just mean the Office of the President and that of the Vice President. There are numerous agencies that find themselves under the Presidency and they are as follows: State House HQTRS, State House Operations (President, Vice President), Office to the Chief of Staff to the President, Office of the Chief Security Officer to the President, State House Medical Centre, State House Lagos Liaison Office, Office of the senior Special Adviser to the President-MDGs, NIPSS, BPE, NEMA, EFCC, BPP, NEITI, NAEC and Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President. I’ll pick items from these agencies to analyse (Note that I might not pick from all agencies).
One thing I noticed under the budget for the State House HQTRS is that 1,832,558,638 is budgeted for ‘Rehabilitation/Repairs-Electricity’. What I want you to understand about this amount is that in the budget of the National Rural Electrification Agency, approximately same amount can be used to electrify 121 communities in Nigeria; 23 communities in Ondo, 15 communities in Lagos, 30 communities in Ogun, 6 communities in Bauchi, 27 communities in Benue, 5 communities in Anambra and 15 communities in Enugu. But yet, this huge sum is what will be used to rehabilitate and repair electricity at the State House HQTRS.
The State House HQTRS also plans to spend 5,746,755,700 to repair and rehabilitate office and residential buildings. As usual, let’s put this into perspective; the Rivers State government House, which is arguably one of the best government houses in sub-Saharan Africa, cost approximately 4,000,000,000 to build and equip. let us also not forget that the State House HQTRS is ‘Repaired/Rehabilitated’ yearly.
There also seems to be a really wonderful relationship between the drafters of the State House HQTRS budget and expensive “Cable connections”. They plan to spend 322,421,971 for the “Linking of Cables to Driver’s Restroom at Villa Admin”. I have never been to the Villa, neither have I been to the “Driver’s restroom at Villa admin”, but they must be watching some pretty interesting shows there (that’s if the cables are meant for cable tv), probably why the drivers are always in a hurry when on our roads, they most definitely want to catch up to a new episode of “Chai! Chai! Diaris god o”. Well, it doesn’t end there. There is also a provision for the “Linking of Cables from Guesthouse NO.9 to Generator House” I have no idea what this is, but a whopping 213,873,953 was budgeted for it. You are probably wishing you were a ‘cable’ right now, but I’m sorry, you aren’t.
On a lighter note, I find it quite befuddling that the total budget for the Vice President (321,797,095) is just a few millions more than ONLY the “Honorarium/Sitting Allowance” for the President (307,644,034). I’m also amused by the fact that the drafters of the budget found it necessary to budget for “Books” for the Vice President, but none for the President. Maybe the President doesn’t read.
The State House Medical Centre budget seemed to be properly made and was going well, till I stumbled upon an item that kept me confused. “Additional Earth Fillings at the Recently Acquired at SHMC” Err don’t ask me what I mean, because that’s exactly what was put in the budget. Despite the line item not making any sense whatsoever, 77,580,000 was earmarked for it. I hope they “amend” that part and probably correct the typo, that’s if it is actually a typo in the first place.
For the Office of the Special Assistant to the President-MDGs, the total budget is put at 124,115,498 which us all meant for Recurrent Expenditure. A calculation of every item on the list puts the total at 110,514,762 which when compared to the total amount being said to be budgeted, leaves a difference of 13,600,736 unaccounted for. Although 13,600,736 might look like a small amount, it shouldn’t stop us from asking where that amount will end up and for what purpose.
In 2015, the NIPSS budgeted 25,545,096 for “Rehabilitation/Repairs-Housing”. In the 2016 budget the President presented to the Senate, that figure was jacked up by over 500% to a rather outrageous 134,353,377. In a period where the President and his team have continued to preach “austerity” and have asked citizens to “tighten your belts”, some figures displayed in the 2016 budget seems more like an insult to Nigerians, with the 500% increase in the line item mentioned above being one of the mildest, of the numerous intelligence/common-sense targeted insults.
One thing that I don’t quite understand with this budget, is why the National Institute For Policy And Strategic Studies (NIPSS) will budget the sum of 294,460,000 for “Research and Development”, more than what the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), an agency whose mission borders on the manufacturing of arms and ammunitions for our security forces. This shows how poor our “Policy” makers (probably the job of the NIPSS in the first place) are.
The budget for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is put at 1,344,510,145. Note that NEMA says its mission is “to coordinate resources towards efficient disaster prevention, preparation, mitigation and response in Nigeria.” When you read this mission statement and compare with the numerous disasters and the amount given to this agency, it paints a very nice picture of a country that knows what to do, right? But here’s the thing; the capital expenditure from this amount is just 499,297,941. At this point you’re wondering what this amount can achieve considering the task NEMA is saddled with. Now here’s the bombshell; the 499,297,941 set aside for Capital Expenditure was budgeted for “Construction/Rehabilitation of Office Buildings” that’s it! Annoyed yet?
This government has put the fight against corruption on the front burner, and it seems to be the only thing they want to do, even at the detriment of other areas of national development. From the vigour with which this government has pursued alleged corrupt individuals (accompanied by impunity and disregard for the judiciary and the rule of law), you would expect the budget of the EFCC to reflect this stance.
With a budget of 11,222,214,471, a 25% increase from the budget of the previous administration, I felt we were on track. But like I’ve come to see in this 2016 budget, we are very far from the stadium, let alone the track. First, the EFCC plans to spend as much as 407,159,103 for “Local Travel & Transport: Others”, 2,550,003,881 for the “Purchase of Office Buildings”, a separate 77,912,910 for the “Construction/Provision of Office Buildings” and 220,600,000 for the “Purchase of Motor Vehicles”. As ridiculous and hope sapping as these items may seem, nothing beats their lack of thinking than the fact that a meagre sum of 111,043,392 was what was set aside for “Legal Services”. How does the EFCC plan to get the best lawyers, fund, pursue and get good results from cases against politicians and public office holders accused of corruptly enriching themselves with monies running into billions of Naira with this budget? The truth is that, they can’t. The budget for the EFCC is just as unserious and uninspiring as this government.
Fellow Nigerians, the Bureau for Public Procurement with a total budget of 1,951,945,646, and a capital expenditure of 935,576,570 has decided to spend 559,189,312 on “Computer Software Acquisition”. That is over 3000% (Three thousand percent) increase from what was budgeted for same item in the 2014 budget, and almost 700% (Seven hundred percent) increase from the 2015 budget. If this isn’t a waste of public funds and an avenue for corrupt dealings, in a period of low oil prices, I do not know what is.
Well, we’ve come to the end of the first part of this budget series which focused on the Presidency. And as you anticipate the next piece in this series, and try to make sense of this government and what they stand for, let me leave you with a little information that is “terrifyingly alarming” as someone put it: N40, Forty Naira, that is the amount budgeted for the “Rural Electrification of Umuezeala-Nsu, Ehime Mbano LGA, Imo”…It is put as item NREA0101021037 under the National Rural Electrification Agency. Have a wonderful day!
Saatah Nubari is a public affairs commentator. He tweets from @Saatah.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.