WHEN the National Assembly passed the N6 trillion budget for 2016 and submitted same to President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians had heaved a sigh of relief, thinking that the end of waiting for the legal instrument on spending money had ended. Those who thought so were wrong, as this turned out to be the beginning of a drama, which has held the country to ransom. First, President Buhari said he would not assent to tthe budget until he got details therein. And when the details were presented, he said he would study them before signing the budget into law. After studying the details submitted, the president declined to sign on the grounds that what the National Assembly approved was different from what he proposed. Now at the end of the first quarter of the year and close to the end of the first month in the second quarter, there is no budget.
Ordinarily, the budget for a coming year ought to be passed and, perhaps, signed into law before the end of the outgoing year or at best the first day or first week of the new year. If the budget, for instance, is submitted in October of the out-going year and the two houses of the National Assembly do their due diligence, by deliberating on the document and passing it into law before the year ends, this target would be on the verge of being met. And if the president receives the details of the budget so passed, examines it and then assents, say before the year ends or the first day/first week of the new year, the budget would be in place in the new year. Had this happened, by now the 2016 budget would be running and the economy would be a beehive of activities.
It is, indeed, sad that both the Presidency and the National Assembly are playing politics with the budget while Nigerians are suffering. Indeed, as the Executive and the Legislature are standing up to each other, flexing muscle and trying to prove who is right, Nigerians are in pain. At present, there is hunger in the land. Industries are comatose. Foreign airlines are relocating their ticketing offices to neighbouring Ghana. Cash is not flowing, as they say in local parlance. These are challenges of a country without budget. If the budget had been passed/signed into law and government begins to release full allocations, there will not be cash crunch, as currently being experienced.
Of course, if, for instance, funds for road construction are released to contractors, they would mobilise staff to sites and get cracking with the jobs at optimal capacity. Materials for construction would be bought and paid for. Workers at sites will receive their daily pay and they will, in turn, finance their personal needs. And the economy will bubble back to life. This may sound simplistic, but it underlines the fact that little things matter. And from little things, greater ones happen or are achieved.
To say the least, the impasse between the Executive and the Legislature regarding the 2016 budget should not have arisen in the first place if the two arms of government understand that they are there to complement each other and not as rivals. It’s the duty of the Executive to project income, propose expenditure and implement the budget. It is the duty of the legislature to approve the proposal so submitted and give it a legal backing. In doing this, there ought not to be an element of ego and selfishness. This should be done with all sense of patriotism and nationalism.
I suspect that the problem is that we have an executive, which appears to be suspicious of everything other arms of government do. The executive of today believes that previous governments did nothing to grow the country. It believes that officials of previous governments were rogues. It believes that even other arms of government of today have ulterior or sinister motives in doing some things. It does not trust anybody. Also, the Legislature, on its part, has the tendency for selfishness. This was exhibited in the 109 Sports Utility Vehicles brouhaha. It shows in the fight for allocation of funds for constituency projects. Also, the Legislature wants to assert its authority, knowing that the power of the president, in the main, is derived, mostly, from the laws it makes. With these parallel tendencies and idiocyncracies there is bound to be conflict.
Yes, the Presidency has proposed what it wants to do with the resources projected for the year. The natural thing is that it would want this, as proposed. The Legislature, exercising its duty as approving arm of government, also feels that it should not be a rubber stamp (and should not), which would pass everything sent to it without question or input. However, this is democracy, where it is not only the will of the Presidency that is done but also the collective will of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. No matter the good intention of the Executive, there is the need for contributions of others, This is why there is more than one arm of government.
However, inasmuch as I believe that the National Assembly should not act as a robot or rubber stamp of the Executive, which ratifies everything it receives, the legislators should, in performing their duties, live above board, like Caesar’s wife. I do not have anything against the National Assembly, realigning the budget, cutting proposed expenditure or imcreasing same, but this should be done with an eye single to the progress of all Nigerians. I do have a problem with realigning the budget to suit the Legislature. We have had cases where lawmakers have realigned allocations to service their constituency projects. I find this funny. In the first place, the duty of lawmakers is to make laws for good governance. Executing project, therefore, be it constituency project or whatever, is an aberration. Lawmakers could lobby the executive or government parastatsls to get projects sited in their constituencies, but having special allocations for this is certainly out of place.
The Executive and Legislature should be ashamed of themselves that close to the first half of the year there is no budget. This makes it imperative that compromise should be reached to resolve whatever issues therein. The two parties should not hold onto their positions, as this would further worsen the already bad situation. Since President Buhari has issues with what was passed as budget, he should send the document back to the National Assembly. If he does not and the time frame for him to make objection expires, the National Assembly would override his veto and impose the budget on him. We should not wait for this to happen.
Everything should be done to put the economy on the path of recovery and activity. Nigerians should know the policy direction of the government in the area of the economy. How to make the budget work should interest everybody. How to finance the budget should be the issue now. What has happened to the money recovered by the Federal Government from former government officials, who made refunds, should be the matter now. The earlier the budget impasse is resolved for us to focus on other things that would make government function well and boost socio-economic development, the better for us. The time to do this is now.
Re: Perilous times are here
Buhari should stop the blame game
Enoughis enough. Buhari should stop the blame game. When he came, there was fuel andstable power supply and his supporters were on rooftop with trumpets singingpraises. Now that his administrative incompetence has been exposed, he isshamelessly blaming past government. He should take what he left behind in 1983and leave us alone to pursue our destiny in 2019. E. Okah, 08035951801
Woe unto APC
GoodluckJonathan administration did not blame Olusegun Obasanjo or Umar Yar’Adua but tackledthe challenges he inherited head on. But Buhari is just a lamenter. Fuel crisiswouldn’t last more that two weeks if this government is proactive. APC government is just a bunch of confused men running our economy to ground zero.One-year in office, yet nothing to show for it. Woe unto APC and Buhari regime. Tobias Igbokwe, 08056341759
Where is Iloh, David-West?
Iwish you directed your questions to our daddy, Elder Moses Iloh and Prof. TamDavid-West who sensitised us to vote Buhari. This body language is turning todead bodies, hunger and frustrations. Mazijos, 08153288980
It’s time for scapegoats
Indeed,perilous times are here. This is a time where those in government work fortheir own interest, a time to blame people for work undone, a time for scapegoats, a time to play politics, a time to see corpses lie on streets, a time forapologies with no palliative action thereafter, a time to smile even whensuffering, a time to hope in uncertainties, a time of total government collapseand failure.
Rev. J. Gold Monye, 07058882573