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2018 Budget: When Two Elephants Fight

By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada


The political terrain can be full of hurdles especially in a country where its democracy is in a nascent stage. To further worsen the case; as it is in the most populous black nation, it is an era of undue friction between the Executive and Legislative arm even though it can be graded by perception as an era of ‘cold war’.

This is pitiable and a gross aberration because the fortunes of the nation is bleeding from these array of skirmishes.

It was an auspicious moment for Nigerians as President Muhammadu Buhari finally gave assent to the 2018 appropriation bill after six months of waiting. To many pundits, the signing of the bill is coming too late, while other critics argued that it is now obvious that the nation is not “running on budget” thus tagging the assent as a mere propaganda without effect.

The reverse is the case because the flexibility and timely execution of projects in any government ministry, agency or parastatal is solely within the jurisdiction and utilisation of budgetary allocation.

This takes us back to the incessant issues of budget padding and other clogs hampering the early passage of the national budget, thereby instigating a shameful scenario of an annual hullabaloo.

From the remarks of Mr President yesterday during the passage, one can visibly understand the act of self-exoneration, shifting blames to the National Assembly for the delay but by imbibing a realist approach, the late approval calls for posers and ponder because this is a national blunder fast becoming a political culture in Nigeria.

To weigh the instances, the year under review is six months down the line and in the true sense of factual assessments, we should be more concerned about our expenditure prior to the time of passage and the source of our income.

If it can  invariably be argued that it was funded from the 2017 budget then there is no need increasing the 2018 budget with a whopping sum of 500 billion naira because by the ‘make belief understanding’ the country was ably funded either by the miscellaneous of last year’s budget or the monies utilised in the past 6 months (January to June 2018) fell from heaven!

This is a caricature that needs redress hence the economic fortunes of the country is dwindling to a critical stage of scaring investors; local and international alike.

For the average Nigerians who are quick to blame their financial status on the budget approval, this is a time to smile but it would not write off the weakening scores of debts accrued during the waiting period.

However, investors and contractors anticipate award of contacts, payment for jobs executed and positive cash and cheque inflow for business owners in the coming days.

What could have necessitated this delay?

It is laughable to see the wild elephant blaming the elephant in the zoo for a fight that is needless but in effect, the battle ground is badly damaged while the fighters return to their games unaffected, however the feud did not end without battering their political images.

This is a lucid scenario of when two elephants fight, the ground suffers the wrath.

The annual delay of signing the appropriation bill can be avoided when parties involved in the preparation, assessment and transmission shun the fradulent crave of padding to suit their interest.

Similarly, the timeframe should be considered when working towards the preparation of the annual budget. This is tasking the Budget and Planning office in the Federal Ministry of Finance to promptly evolve a requisition for data and working tools aimed at not delaying the process.

On the whole, the process of budgetary allocation and assent should be fast tracked in order to serve, instead of running a deficit account while anticipating allocation else the issues surrounding budgetary allocation are a scam. This is not a healthy practice for our democracy and economy.

Political rancour and personal issues should not be reflected on the national drawing board. This is realistically difficult in a developing country like Nigeria but it can be obtainable through discipline and respect for the common man who is not always part and partisan to the debacle but carries the cross uneasily.

God bless Nigeria!

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