Political budget presentation and the common man

Political budget presentation and the common man

By Ademola Adeoye

Mr. Femi Adesina of late said that the 2018 Budget is expected to be quickly worked on by the national assembly, so that its implementation could begin early next year, 2018. When I heard that, I chortled frantically because I knew it was just a mere political statement. How do I mean?

One, 2017 Budget will still be active till around May next year, 2018, so how will the current administration start to execute the fresh Budget while the current one is still running like water that is unfit for drinking? Two, in a context of budget performance, the current Budget is doing very poorly—wearing rags. It has been said that its performance is about 12%!

Budgets in Nigeria have always been about those in the corridors of power, not about the common man—who is wallowing in the septic-tank of poverty. Since varied presidents have been presenting Budgets in Nigeria, has the common man become better for those budgets? The common man is not interested in a Budget presentation, what he is interested in, is a Budget implementation.

After the 2018 Budget was presented by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to our lawmakers, I expected Nigerians to start asking intelligent questions, but most of what I did read about on social media was the accolades of water being showered on Mr. President’s head—for being able to stand on his feet while the presentation lasted. While I am thrilled with ecstatic joy that the number one citizen of the country I love so much was able to get back on his feet after taking ill for some months, I do not think being able to stand to present a Budget alone is what would put food on the table of the common man.

To start with, how much has been allocated for education in 2018 Budget? And how much has been billed for health? While serious nations are budgeting huge money for education, we are still playing a cheap politics with our own. I have studied budgets of some first world countries. And I have been able to find out that they do not joke with education and healthcare services of their citizens. In Nigeria, we do not care a hoot about this twin—education and health, because our task-masters’ children are not schooling in here and when they themselves take ill, they jump on the next available flight to London, Germany and Saudi-Arabia.

It is a shame and an embarrassment that one of the fine political leaders of our country had to pass on, on the inside of a London hospital. I am talking about Alex Ekueme of this world. It is a shame that we could not also take care of our president when he took ill. Each time our leaders jump on the plane for medical checks beyond the shores of Nigeria, we are sending the wrong signals to the nations of the earth that we are not serious as a people. What if those nations we run to are not serious like us?

In a nation where the National Universities Commission Budgets 8million naira for research and development while 85million naira is for the purchase of motor vehicles. When I either hear or read about issues like this, I know that the devil is not our problem, we are our own problem. We prefer motor vehicles to research and development. Any nation that does not place an appropriate value on knowledge is not a serious nation and it is a waste of time residing on the inside of it. Nations develop and step forward through heavy investment in knowledge, not through buying of motor vehicles, laptops, cooking utensils, knives…every year.

While the common man was groaning (and still groaning) in the midst of harsh economic condition that was (and is still being) inflicted on him by political leaders that he voted into power, our lawmakers were agitating for new cars. There is something about the Blackman and cars. It is not only the Black leaders—who are having this problem; it is a problem that touches all of us. If you are not riding either an expensive or classy cars, you would not be seen as someone who is important in the society. If you go to an office, driving a pricey car, you would be respected, but if you go back to same office without driving, you would not be respected. In Nigeria, people do not respect you; they only respect your expensive cars.

When President Buhari came to power, he promised to diversify the economy, but looking at both Budgets of Recovery & Growth and Consolidation, it is clear as water the direction of the current administration. How can an Administration that said it would diversify the economy budget a tiny percentage of it for agriculture? It is lucid that we cannot finance our budgets without depending on crude oil and loans. I thought President Buhari would bring something fresh to the table, but it is becoming comprehensible to me now that “PMB” is almost certainly not the one we have been expecting as a people.

Our Recurrent Expenditure and Debt Servicing still do not make any economic sense. The duo of Recurrent Expenditure and Debt Serving dwarf our Capital Expenditure. Our Recurrent Expenditure and Debt Servicing are huge because Budgets in Nigeria are primarily for those in the corridors of power, not the common man—who daily walks on our dusty-streets. If the common man likes, he can commit suicide, those in the corridors of power would still yearly budget for laptops, spoons, cars, cooking pots, knives…I guess what they buy are Chinese products. And you know that Chinese products do not last beyond a year!

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