By Remigius Akinbinu
Somehow in the United States of America, it is often the case that the best run states are determined by their budgets in planning, presentation and implementation.
Thinking about this readily leaves a sore taste in the mouth when assessing the status of Nigeria’s 2016 budget.
Do we even have a budget yet? A budget becomes a budget when it is finally approved by the legislature for the executive to implement.
A budget passed by the National Assembly with such magnitude of distrust, suspicion and needless argy bargy cannot be said to be a budget properly so called.
This budget was with the National Assembly four more than three months and yet, one month after it’s supposed passage, we are without any headway as to what becomes of it in implementation.
Four months into the year, the budget, first by the 11-month old Buhari led federal government, has for over five months now being enmeshed in varying degrees of controversies, unprecedented in the nation’s budgeting annals and such as had left the citizenry wondering if those at the helm of our federal executive and legislature know what they are doing.
Budgets are said to be the vital ingredients that sustain the life and motion of an organization that enable it to perform its most essential function.
Finance dictates the development trends, shapes the real topography of the political landscape of all polities and its operational tool ;money.
So, if close to the half of the year, one of Africa’s most beleaguered nations is yet to have a budget properly so called, it means therefore that we as a nation are leaving on a precipice.
First, it was the strange news of the missing budget papers which brought us as a nation untold international opprobrium. I was ashamed seeing the way the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported the story of the missing budget to the world.
To make matters worse, it turned out to be a story of accusations and counter accusations between the federal executive and the National Assembly as to which among the two organs was responsible for the disappearance of the budget papers.
The appropriation bill, which would have ordinarily passed through a simple process of passage became controversial because most of the figures were also said to be ‘padded’ and after the bill was ‘cleansed’, and passed by the parliament, the final figures still reflected differentials in allocations.
Four months after the dust settled over the shame of the missing budget papers, the same budget passed over a month ago is yet again enmeshed in fresh ridiculous, and avoidable crisis!
Key infrastructural projects including the much anticipated Lagos-Calabar rail line project were alleged to have been removed from the budget. By whom yet again became a blame-trading-issue between the legislature and the executive.
The budget crises had to come round to an all time ridiculous height sometimes in January when the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara opened his mouth wide to tell the world the report of the missing budget which had already received global attention was ‘an April Fool’!
That it happened back in January, probably, meant some of the people ruling us felt the country itself was a kind of ‘April fool’ or an organized joke!
I’ve seen some Americans including the controversial Republican presidential aspirant, Donald Trump deride Nigeria and Nigerians by referring to us as a joke. Must our leaders accentuate such with the reckless and comical handling of the national budget?
In more civilized climes, the citizenry who are the ultimate victims of the crimes involved in the unending budget saga and all civil rights activists alike would have been on the streets demanding the suspension of all the individuals involved and calling for the immediate resignation of key figures in both the National Assembly and the Presidency . In Nigeria, however, it is a different ball game. It is as if nothing worth the cry has happened at all.
That Nigeria, at this point in time is beset with myriads of security and economic problems more than ever before, should persuade our leaders to stop creating more avoidable problems like the criminal, insincere and inchoate handling of the national budget.