From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Economic experts have identified improper planning, poor budget implementation and monitoring by government as some of the factors responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment.
They said that the country’s budget allocations, spending and service outcomes were often below standard; hence, the low impact of the country’s budget on its economy.
The experts stated this during this year’s Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah Memorial Budget Roundtable held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. It was an annual conference of UNIZIK Business School (UBS) and its themed Budget Cycle in Nigeria in the face of COVID-19 Pandemic.
The budget roundtable was instituted in honour of an internationally recognised petroleum economist and former Special Adviser to Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, late Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, who was also their benefactor.
The keynote speaker, Mr. Babajide Ogunsanwo, at the zoom conference, described Nigeria’s budget as a ‘briefcase’ and insufficient, compared to other countries with population of over 200,000 million people.
Ogunsanwo, the Channels TV Public Affairs and Data Analyst, said that poor planning, budgeting and allocation of the country’s resources were responsible for poor family spending, low business investment on capital equipment, decline in business profit, high unemployment rate, and decline in inflow of foreign direct investment.
Regretting that the standard of living in the country was declining despite the N40 trillion spent in five years, Ogunsanwo faulted the budget system and service delivery in Nigeria; saying that the abnormal things happening to the nation’s economy were expected because her leaders failed to toe the right path.
“Government’s spending has not been exponential because the bigger challenge is that our expenditures are growing above the revenues, income. In fact, our revenue has been flat.
“Nigeria still relies on oil as source of revenue; that sector is volatile and cannot get us to three digits income”, the data analyst warned.
The keynote speaker, who identified lack of trust as part of the reasons why citizens do not demand much accountability from their leaders, suggested scenario planning, adaptability and being proactive as good means of achieving more sustainable budgeting for the country.
The chief discussant and senior fellow of the business school, Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, expressed dissatisfaction with the country’s budget allocation, spending and service outcome. He also decried the low impact of Nigeria’s budget due to poor monitoring and evaluation.
Ikechukwu, who is the executive director, Development Spec Academy, said for Nigeria to get her budget system right, she needs to prioritize, cut cost of governance and as well as review its budgeting processes.
The director of the UBS, Prof. Au Nnonyelu, said that the event which was the 3rd in a series, provided an opportunity to interrogate issues dwelling on budget processes and delivery, and was targeted at holding government more accountable especially as the economy recovery continues after COVID-19 pandemic.
Nnonyelu thanked the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, for his commitment to the UBS, even as he called on other public spirited individuals to sponsor and support the lecture series.
Prof. Esimone, while declaring the event open, described the theme as apt, and thanked the UBS leadership for sustaining the lecture series. He assured of his continued support to the school.
Permanent Secretary in the Anambra State Ministry of Lands, Dr. Emenike Ezinando, a discussant at the event, said that government was making honest efforts to change the system of budgeting in the state.
While calling for more support from the citizens, Ezinando lamented that budget system in the country usually suffer interruptions because of political instability, financial factors and others.
The permanent secretary, Ezinando, opined that early passage of budget within the physical year would help to enhance its performance. He suggested that legislatures should drop the idea of implementing constituency projects to become more effective in their oversight functions.
Deputy Director, UBS, Dr. Chinedu Onyeizugbe, in a vote of thanks, stressed the need to follow up budget implementation to achieve more efficient result; saying that it would help improve the living standard of the people.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Emma Okoye, identified corruption as the bane of budgetary system in Nigeria, and called for more sponsors to sustain the lecture series.