For many Nigerians, the 2016 Appropriation budget was to serve as the one of the first indices to measure the seriousness of the Buhari administration.
With a falling Naira, a destabilized Stock exchange, a failing economy and crude oil prices at an all time low, the 2016 proposed budget was expected to be the government’s blueprint to convince people of its resolve to end the current crisis.
Sadly, the proposed 2016 budget has proved to be an embarrassment from the get go, beginning with reports that the National Assembly had ‘lost’ the hard and soft copies of the budget it received from the Presidency. A blame game commenced and ended with the Presidency withdrawing the budget.
The budget, estimated at N6.08 Trillion was eventually made public and the national embarrassment continued, with several sections of the budget seeming suspicious and showing that although we are in dire straits, the government has no desire to cut its costs.
The blame game did not end there, with the Presidency blaming the shambolic budget on a “budget cabal” and promising to fire the permanent secretaries.
The minister of Health who appeared before the Senate also claimed that the budget of the ministry of health was different from the original version which was submitted by his ministry.
Citing errors in the budget, the National Assembly has postponed the passage of the budget indefinitely.
The Chairmen of the Appropriation Committees in both chambers of the National Assembly, Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Jubril Abdulmumini told journalists yesterday that the substantive date for passing the proposed budget was no longer viable.
“We are here in connection with the ongoing process of the 2016 budget defence and because these two committees are saddled with the production of the final copies of the budget that would be passed by the two Houses for onward submission to Mr. President for his assent and subsequent implementation, and because with the observed instances that have been reported since the budget’s submission, there are a lot of controversies surrounding the budget.
“We feel that we have to come here, interact with you and make some clarifications so that Nigerians will know the correct situation of things regarding the 2016 budget.
“We designed a timetable for the consideration and passage of the budget and that particular timetable was that we will pass the budget on February 25, 2016.
“But as you are all aware, a lot of issues have come up and gladly even the executive arm of government has also come out to accept the fact that there are a lot of errors in the budget.
“Again, during the budget defence a lot of issues based on the padding of the budget arising from over-bloated overheads and in some instances, cases of over-bloated personnel cost arose.
“But generally, there has been a lot of issues. The Appropriation Committees would look at these issues after the whole budget defence to do a very thorough work aimed at doing a proper clean up of the budget with all the stakeholders to enable us pass the budget that is implementable from the perspective of the legislature and also acceptable to the executive arm of the government.
“So, in summary, the timetable for the passage of the budget is no longer realistic because the Appropriation Committees of both chambers of the National Assembly will need additional time to be able to do a thorough job for the 2016 budget.
“We want to remove all ambiguities. We want to remove all padding. We want to produce a budget that is in line with the constitutional requirement.
“Again, in terms of capital expenditure, there are complaints coming from different quarters arising from the imbalance from the capital allocation and of course disagreements among the ministers and the civil servants in the various ministries that we have witnessed during the budget defence.
“These all together form enough basis for us to sit down and ensure that a thorough job is done before the budget is passed,” they said.