Jonathan Swift was on point when he rightly stated that the mistakes committed by ignorance in a virtuous disposition would never be of such fatal consequence to the public weal, as the practices of a man whose inclinations led him to be corrupt, and had great abilities to manage and multiply and defend his corruptions. On this note, we will now continue our analysis of Aso Villa Budget for three years. Our thesis is that like last year, the budget is still unpardonably padded, inspite of President Buhari’s promise to Nigerians that 2016 would never be repeated. Padding is defined as something added unnecessarily or dishonestly. I concede I am not an economist, or financial expert. But I have Senator Ben Bruce’s “Common Sense”, native intelligence of a village man that I am.
An arm and a leg for mere budget preparation
The shocker, for starters, about the 2017 budget, is that it would cost Nigeria a whopping N5.41 billion as the incredible cost of preparing the budget. That is an arm and a leg. How, you may rightly ask.
Various MDAs allocated humongous sums of money for the preparation and administration of the budget. Known as Annual Budget Expenses and Administration (ABEA), with the code 22021014, the cost appeared 229 times in the 1296-page 2017 Appropriation Bill currently being considered by the National Assembly. Specifically, ABEA accounts for N1.065 billion of the entire budget. The Ministry of Budget and National Planning as well as the Budget Office of the Federation, whose core duties are preparation of the budget, made provisions for ABEA. While the Budget Office envisages N101,532,159 for budget expenses and administration, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning proposed N59,239,205.
The Ministry of Education alone allocated N19.62 million for budget preparation, defence and administration. The Labour and Productivity Ministry have two provisions for ABEA, N10 million and N3.439 million, totaling N13.439m. The sum of N1,706,740,863 was allocated to the Budget Office of the Federation, and another N2,635,678,906 to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. Thus, allocations to ABEA show that beleaguered recession-ravaged tax payers would spend N5.41billion on mere budget preparation in 2017.
As it was in the beginning: History repeated
In 2016, a paltry N2.6 billion was allocated to all hospitals in Nigeria, whilst on elephantine sum of N3.8 billion was budgeted for the State House Medical Centre. This was aside N3.21 billion allocated for health equipment and supplies for the Medical Centre. Another “State House Headquarters” had listed N203.2 million for drugs and medical supplies. Yet, our big “ogas” don’t use these expensive facilities. They run abroad, even for mere ear infection or cough. Leadership must be by example.
Don’t forget that a princely sum of N322.4m was budgeted to link cables to the drivers’ rest room at the Presidential Villa in 2016. A shocking sum of N618.6 million was equally proposed for the installation of electrical lighting and fittings at the Villa, which equaled spending N1.6 million daily; and another N371.7 million for the installation of electrical distribution boards and other cables. Even Beverly Hills and Hollywood would have been green with envy. For the purchase of new exotic automobiles and maintenance, N904m was allocated.
The Ministry of Interior had budgeted N6.2 billion for “research and development”; and the Nigerian Prisons, N500 million for “capacity building”. The same Toyota Hilux vehicle had grown wings to fly astronomically from N5.7m budgeted by the Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency, to land at N27.6 million per unit at Federal Government’s College, Kazaure. Yet, we shout recession?
Comparative analysis of budgets for three years
2015 2016 2017
Sewage charges: N6,121,643 N52,827,800 N4,957,143
This simply means that “shit charge” in 2017 went up by 1050%, compared with the 2015 budget, and 850%, when compared with the 2016 budget. That must be the most expensive shit in the entire universe. The N52,827,800 question I want to ask is, what exactly are they shitting in Aso Villa? Do they shit gold, diamond and saphire?
Honorarium & Sitting:
N 174,471,371 N507,518, 861 N556,592,736
Nigerians need to know why these sitting allowances and honorarium are skyrocketing every year. Former Governor, Peter Obi of Anambra State, has shown the path, through his exemplary leadership qualities, on how to cut costs when sittings like these are organised. By the way, what do they discuss in Aso Villa that consumes over half a billion naira in one year? World war III? Armageddon? The Apocalypse? Or creation of the World?
N22,459,575 N27,735,643. N77,545,700.
The pertinent questions I want to ask here are: Who is this shylock landlord that the Presidency and the whole State House are paying residential rent to, and why is the landlord always bent on increasing the rent every year, without even assuming responsibility for the repairs in the State House? By the way, who are the tenants in Aso Villa?
2014-N132,200,000 N877,015,000 N197,000,000
The last time there was a budget for “Motor Vehicles” was in the GEJ 2014 budget and it was a total of N132,200,000. This government assumed power in 2015. It somehow concluded that the State House Headquarters did not have enough “Motor Vehicles.” So, they started their tenure by budgeting N877,015,000, in 2016, a whole 650% increase from the 2014 budget for the same item. The incredible sum of N259 million was allocated last year for the purchase of “tyres, batteries, fuses, maintenance, tool boxes, tyre changing machines, kits”, with another N27m for “the purchase of C- Caution signs, fire extinguisher, towing ropes and booster cables for Aso Villa Automobile fleet”. Yet, we are said to be undergoing “Change”. Yes, change indeed! Change for the worse.
N36.7 m N 45,332,433, N 319,625,753
2016 would end up being one of the darkest years in Nigeria as regards power supply. So, I do not understand from where the State House Headquarters suddenly obtained megawatts in 2016 to have budgeted 319,625,753 for “Electricity Charge” in 2017. Good God! NEPA, or is it ECN or PHCN, where is thy light?
Rehabilitation/repairs of residential buildings:
N1.12b N 642,568,122, N5,625,752,757
The 2016 State House Headquarters budget for the “Rehabilitation/Repairs of Residential Buildings” was N642,568,122, while in 2017, it appears that an enormous asteroid managed to hit and destroy or damage all residential buildings at the State House Headquarters. Otherwise, how can you budget a whopping N5.6 billion for “Rehabilitation/Repairs of residential buildings”? Does this mean that this government is corruptly enriching itself, or deliberatly enriching some select few? Gist me.
N526.17 m N445.49 m N850 m
Feeding includes both food stuffs, cooking gas, catering materials, kitchen utensils, purchase of canteen, refreshment and meals. Yet, every year, Aso Villa buys new cutleries and kitchen utensils. What happened to all the gold plated ones bought only last year? Does it mean Aso Villa cutleries and utensils have only one-year life span? I have been using some utensils for five years!
pmb’s international and local travels:
N944 m N1.2 b N978 m
As usual, knowing that we have a travelling president, N739,487,784 has been budgeted for “International Travel & Transport.” Last year, only the vice president had a budget for books. This year, neither the president nor his vice (now the acting president), budgeted for it at all. Are they afraid to read for improvement, or engage in intellectual masturbation?
President’s chief security officer (CSO):
No budget N25m N123m
The government has been very loud, with éclat, that it has defeated Boko Haram in Sambisa forest and that peace has since returned to the zone. Okay. But, why is the Presidency busy fortifying his security details financially? The last time I checked, Nigeria is not in a war situation.
Vice president’s budget for travel:
N33m N43m N306m (N218m foreign, N88m local travels.)
But why the huge budget for the president and acting president’s local journeys? I thought we had many aircraft of all description in the Presidential fleet?
Feeding for the vice president:
N11 m N6.7 m N53m.
While the government is busy admonishing Nigerians to be prudent in housekeeping, to cut cost and to live moderately, the president and acting president’s feeding budget keeps soaring high. What do they eat in Aso Villa? Elephants? Rhinoceros? Hippopotamus? Unreachable and extinct manna?
In 2016, N3,260,000 was budgeted by the EFCC for the “Purchase of Photocopiers”, while in the 2017, N13,755,000 is the magic number. The pertinent question here is, what happened to the 2016 photocopiers? Were they suddenly damaged beyond repairs? If so, who purchased those photocopiers for EFCC? This is because a brand new and well managed photocopier should last, at least, three years before developing serious fault. I have been using some photocopiers in some of my offices for over five years, and still counting.
N1,100,595,088 has been budgeted for the “Furnishing of the New Head Office” of EFCC, whose construction cost in the 2016 budget was put at N7,912,502,911. Now, guess what. There is a budget of a whopping N244.7million for the “Consultancy of the Head Office Project.” N244 million for consultancy? In this recession? Haba. Again, N4,583,616,838 is budgeted for the “Completion of Ongoing New Head Office Building Construction”, for which N7,912,502,911 was budgeted in 2016, thus bringing the total to N12,496,119,749. Is EFCC competing with the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in Dubai, which is 2,717 ft. tall, with 163 floors? I am just wondering.
The above simple analysis is but a mere tip of the iceberg. This government of trumpeted “change” is fast distinguishing itself as the most profligate, expensive and wasteful government in the annals of Nigeria. It practises voodoo economics that allows for budget padding. In the words of President Thomas Jefferson, you can fool some people some of the time; fool some of the people all the time; but you can never fool all of the people all the time. Nigerians are watching.
Thoughts for the week
“We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.” -Charles De Gaulle.