Eze Onyekpere: Where is the 2013 Federal Budget?

Published:4 Feb, 2013

President-JonathanGoing by media reports, it has been 21 days since the 2013 Appropriation Bill was forwarded by the National Assembly to President Goodluck Jonathan for his assent. Since then, there has been no word from the President to indicate his assent or his refusal to assent to the bill. A couple of days ago, the President and the leadership of the National Assembly met behind closed doors and thereafter refused to address the public on the reasons for the meeting and or the decisions arising from their meeting. It has all been silence on both sides. Yes, the Constitution in Section 58 (4) allows the President up to 30 days to signify his assent or the withholding of his assent. But do we have all the time in the world before commencing the implementation of the 2013 budget?

The news of the relatively early presentation of the 2013 budget by the President to the National Assembly in October 2012 was a big relief to stakeholders in the budgeting process. The announcement of an early passage, shortly before the legislative break, was also a welcome development. Whatever gains that could have accrued from these relatively timely activities of the Executive and Legislature would now be wiped off by the unnecessary feud by the two arms of government.  It does not take more than a few days to study and take a position on a bill and communicate same to the legislature.

The public concern is that whatever is the source of the disagreement between the two arms of government in the 2013 budget is not about the security and welfare of the people who they swore to serve. It is about their personal and selfish interests, their ego and these have nothing to do with either legality or legitimacy. As it stands today, even though there has been no official word from the President, if he is in agreement with all the issues in the budget, he would have signed it. There are a number of reasons that provide sufficient grounds to conclude that we do not need this needless distractive feud.

The first is that we are in the thick of the dry season which is the best period for the construction of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, among other.  One would have expected that the authorities recognise this fact and optimally utilise the period before the rains set in and make outdoor infrastructure construction impossible. Without agreement on the funds to be spent, releases of funds in this period will be based on a rule of the thumb and not on any empirical approach to project funding and management. Even though Section 82 of the Constitution authorises the President to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to carry out the services of the Government of the Federation for a period not exceeding six months or until the coming into force of the Appropriation Act – whichever is the earlier, such services must be the services approved and authorised by law. Such funds cannot be used to fund new projects which may be the subject of disagreement between the executive and legislature and may not match what is needed or approved for specific projects in the new budget, which is the subject of the dispute.

The second reason is that by this waste of time, we are laying a granite foundation for the failure of the 2013 capital budget. Sooner than later, executive stories will start changing and perfect excuses would have been made for the executive to claim that they started capital budget implementation late and therefore should not be expected to achieve anything meaningful within the year. The 2012 capital budget despite all the grandstanding by the Minister of Finance and the rest of the executive did not achieve up to 50 per cent capital utilisation. Any reasonable body of persons would have drawn the right lessons from 2012 and previous years’ budgets and insist on starting on time and being meticulous in the implementation process. But that cannot be because our all-knowing and transformative leadership can never learn; we cannot draw the right lessons from previous experience. Rather, we are masters of repeating our mistakes and indulging in manufacturing excuses on why we failed. Nigerians are tired of excuses but need to hear the reasons that informed success which can now be replicated in subsequent years.

The third issue is that if there are projects and programmes in the budget leading to this apparent disagreement, we may likely have a repeat of previous experiences when the Executive was accused of ignoring the approved budget but simply spending on the activities in the initial bill sent to the Legislature before its approval and assent of the President. Although the Executive denied this allegation in previous years, the fund release and implementation pattern bears out the truth in this charge. Thus, the implication will be that Nigerians will be expecting projects found in the approved budget while the Executive has an unapproved budget which it will be implementing.

The fourth reason informing the need to avoid this feud is that the Executive and Legislature will be defrauding the treasury by continued earning their salaries and perks of office while refusing to carry out their constitutional duties through a stage managed feud that has no bearing on our welfare, the advancement of democracy or the bridging of our underdevelopment and infrastructure challenge. The budget is the principal instrument that translates government’s policy and all the verbiage of transformation and a legislative agenda into a programme of action that touches people’s lives. If the Executive and Legislature are not ready to agree and get our budget working, then it has become imperative to place a moratorium on their salaries and perks of office until they decide to restore sanity into government business. We cannot continue running a government of the Executive and the Legislature for the Executive and Legislature without any thought for the common good of the over 168 million Nigerians who they are supposed to serve.

On another note, recent information indicated that the President ordered the release of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account to be shared by the three tiers of government. One hopes that the funds that will accrue to the Federal Government and other tiers of government have been captured in their respective 2013 Appropriation Acts or Laws. If the funds have not been so captured, the legislature at all tiers should insist that the funds should not be spent without the imprimatur of their appropriation. This is the way to infuse sanity into the financial system and call the executive to order. Previous withdrawals from the ECA shared by the three tiers of government went down the drain and no one can rightly account for the funds.

Finally, the 2013 federal budget must be brought on stream within the next couple of days if we are serious about its full implementation. Nigerians should rise up and demand patriotic and mature conduct from those entrusted with the responsibilities of leading them. We can no longer afford to be pampering people who do not care about us.

 

Eze Onyekpere (censoj@gmail.com)

Read original article via Punch

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Herdsmen Attack: Police To Train Neighbourhood Watch Outfits In Enugu

The Enugu State Police Command has concluded arrangements to train neighbourhood watch security outfits in communities in the state. The plan is a fallout of the attack on Ukpabi Nimbo community by suspected Fulani herdsmen on April 25. Although some communities in the state already had neighbourhood watch units, a decision to set up the outfit in all the towns in the state was the major outcome of a stakeholders meeting convened by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi after the Ukpabi Nimbo attack. The...

EFCC Re-Arraigns Ajudua For $8.4m Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday re-arraigned an alleged serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, for an alleged fraud of $8.4m.   Ajudua was accused of swindling the complainant, a former Chief of Army, Staff Lt Col. Ishaya Bamaiyi, of the sum sometime in 2004 at Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos.His re-arraignment on Thursday followed the transfer of his case from Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja to Justice Kudirat Jose of the same court. The amended charge...

FG To Assist Communities Reclaim Lands Damaged By Mining Activities

The Federal Government says it has made provisions in the 2016 budget to help communities reclaim lands damaged through open cast mining. The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said this at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja. According to him, the ministry has a law that gives conditions for environmental complaints.   ``Talking specifically about the conditions in places like Jos and Enugu if you look our budget this year, you will see specific allocation for reclamation...

Military Pensions Board To Complete Payment Of 33% Increment Arrears To Pensioners By 2017

The Military Pensions Board (MPB) says payment of 33 per cent increment arrears owed military pensioners since 2010 will be completed by the end of 2017. The Chairman of the Board, Air Vice-Marshal Muhammad Dabo, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday. He said the administration of Muhammadu Buhari was committed to the welfare of Nigerian military pensioners and had been fully supportive of the board’s activities in the past one year.   ``There...

Army Acquires Vehicles To Enhance Communication

The Nigerian Army has acquired six vehicles to enhance communication in its fight against insurgency in the North-East. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the vehicles were inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, during his visit to Lagos on Wednesday. Buratai said the vehicles, procured by the Army Signal Corps, would be deployed to help in prosecuting the fight against insurgency in the North- East. ``We are still pursuing the terrorists and we will continue...

FG Constitutes Committee To Address Demands Of Organised Labour

The Federal Government on Wednesday constituted a 16-man committee to address issues that necessitated the three-day strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) after the fuel pump price hike. Mr Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), stated this in Abuja after a meeting of the Federal Government delegation with the organised labour. He said that the meeting was called to work out modalities on ways to resolve the issues raised by the organised labour. ``I am...

Former PDP NWC Members Endorse Constitution of Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee

Members of the immediate past National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have endorsed their dissolution and other decisions taken at the party’s National Convention held in Port Harcourt. This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the immediate past Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus and six others. The statement stated that in the absence of the then National Chairman of the Party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, Secondus presided over the...

Agunloye Advises FG To Fight Corruption In Power Sector

Former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye, on Wednesday advised the Federal Government to address corruption in the power sector. Agunloye gave the advice during a chat with newsmen in Abuja. He had purchased Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for the Ondo gubernatorial election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP). According to him, electricity generation is not rocket science and tackling corruption in the sector will ensure stable power supply across the country. ``When I was minister of...

FAAC: FG Recovers N1.5 bn, Shares N281.5bn To 3 Tiers Of Government

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said in Abuja on Wednesday that N1.5 billion, being excess bank charges, was recovered and paid into the Federation Account. Adeosun announced this while addressing newsmen on the outcome of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting. She said this was done by a consortium of consultants for the Federation Account and that the money was proposed for distribution. She also said that N281.5 billion was shared among the federal, states and local governments as...

Army Renews Call On Boko Haram Fighters To Surrender

The Nigerian Army on Wednesday renewed calls on repentant Boko Haram fighters wishing to surrender to do so without wasting more time. Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, made the call while speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) Nursery School and a Day Care Centre at the Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri. Irabor said that those who failed to surrender would pay the price for being stubborn. He added that ``I will like...

5 Herdsmen Arrested Over Enugu Massacre

The Police Force Head­quarters in Abuja, have announced the arrest of the masterminds and perpetrators of Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State on April, 25, 2016. The attack led to the death of several persons and destruction of prop­erty valued at millions of naira The attackers compris­ing a five-member-gang were arrested by op­eratives of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT). The suspects were found with one...

Economy In Volatile Situation- Buhari

Nigeria’s economy is currently in a volatile situation due to the crash in oil prices, President Muhammadu Buhari has said. The president’s remark came at a time when oil price yesterday rose to nearly $50 a barrel, even though Nigerian will earn less from the boom due to drop in production in recent times.  Buhari spoke yesterday at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja at a farewell audience with Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria,...

Reps Order Halt Of Refineries Privatization

The House of Representatives Committee on Privatization and Commercialization has directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to stop its planned privatization of the nation’s refineries or joint investment ventures with some multinationals. The committee’s chairman, Hon. Ahmed Yerima (APC, Bauchi), who gave the order yesterday in Abuja during an interactive session with the managements of the NNPC and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on the planned privatization of three  refineries in the country, said the...

$200 Billion Loot: EFCC Raids Dubai Firm’s Office In Abuja

As part of the ongoing probe of the laundering of over $200billion loot in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by former political office holders, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) yesterday stormed the office of a Dubai property firm, The First Group Company,  in Abuja. The company is also being investigated for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians by luring them to invest in real estate in Dubai. A prominent Nigerian lost about...

Dana Air Pilots Go On Strike, Passengers Stranded

Dana Air pilots have gone on strike in protest of the non-payment of their salaries, grounding the airline’s operations and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded nationwide. “The strike started this morning and passengers that were supposed to travel this morning are stranded,” a source at the airport said. According to the source, the airline had continued to sell tickets to passengers earlier today in the hope that the dispute would be resolved.

Edo Govt Withdraws Letter On Appointment Of Oba Of Benin

The Edo State Government has withdrawn a letter earlier issued on its approval on the appointment of the new Oba of Benin, saying it was issued in error. In a retraction signed by the Secretary to State Government, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, dated May 25, 2016, the government stated: “In deference to the revered age-long tradition and respect for the sensibilities of the people of the great Benin Kingdom, the Government of Edo State hereby withdraws a...

Sheriff, Makarfi Sent Out Of PDP BoT Meeting

The former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff and the chairman of the Caretaker committee of the Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi were excused out of a meeting of the board of trustees of the party which is on going in Abuja. Senator Sheriff walked into the Transcorp Hilton venue of the meeting at about 11:10 am and was followed five minutes later by senator Makarfi who also walked in to the meeting.

NLC Leader Tagged “Ghost-Worker” Gets Sacked By Kogi Govt

The Kogi State government says the state chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Onuh Edoka, is a “ghost worker”, and has fired him. Mr. Edoka was one of about 9000 people sacked following a screening exercise to weed out illegal workers from the 21 local government areas of the state. Mr. Edoka, who serves as head of both the Medical Health Workers Union and the NLC in the state, said he was employed in 1989,...

Value Of Electronic Transactions Hit N48.9tr In Nigeria

Although, it is still plagued by inadequate levels of awareness, poor banking culture, lack of trust and a love for the status quo, the value of e-transactions recorded in 2015 hit N48.93 trillion, up by 11.6 per cent from 2014 in Nigeria. This disclosure was contained in a White Paper report titled “Africa on the Verge (AoV) Convergence Series”, put together by AfricaPractice, a strategy and communications consultancy firm, with offices in Nigeria and abroad. A...

Niger Delta Avengers Blow Up Oil Pipeline Again

Militants suspected to be members of the Niger Delta Avengers have blown up an underground Chevron crude oil trunk line. The trunk line is located along the Seria Creek near Abiteye, a few kilometres away from the company’s multi-billion dollars Tank Farm in Escravos, Warri South West local government area of Delta State. It was gathered that the incident, which occurred midnight, was noticed by workers in the production department when they observed drop...

NAF To Enhance Weapon System Through Collaboration

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Wednesday said it had concluded arrangements to collaborate with the Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion (CSTP) to enhance its weapon delivery capability.   This is contained in a statement signed by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Capt. Ayodele Famuyiwa, in Abuja.   The statement said NAF was zealous about optimising indigenous capacity and willing to expand existing frontier of collaboration with research institutions in the country that possessed the potential to enhance its...