To say that this year is the worst for the nation’s
economy is to state the obvious. Aside from
the pummelling effects of dwindling revenue
arising from cut in oil prices, weak internally
generated revenue and lukewarm attitude of
revenue generating agencies to executing their mandates,
the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari seems
unwilling to touch the 2015 budget prepared and passed into
law by the out gone Jonathan administration and 7th National
Assembly, respectively.
The result of the neglect of the implementation of the
provisions of this year’s budget is manifest in the doldrums
that have come to be witnessed in all major key sectors of the
economy. The situation is further compounded by the recent
directive to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs to
close all existing accounts but maintain only Treasury Single
Account, TSA, with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. That
action alone led to the closure of over 22,000 accounts in
commercial banks. The ripple effects this action will have on
the economy in the days ahead will soon become public.
It is clear to everyone that nothing is moving in this country,
economy wise. The present administration seems to enjoy the
idea of paying salaries, ignoring capital projects with their
well-known ability of creating jobs and energizing various
sectors, including the informal sector through job creation,
economic empowerment, and sundry activities.
For instance, the Federal Ministry of Works which has the
responsibility of awarding and supervising contracts for
major capital projects such as roads, bridges, etc has remained
inoperative since this year despite budgetary provisions.
The ministry was allocated N19 billion in this year’s budget
for capital votes, but it is yet to receive any releases nine
months into the year. The ministry has 43 captured ongoing
projects while new projects suffer funding implementation.
This is despite the fact that the sum of N556, 995,465,449 was
earmarked for capital expenditure in the 2015 budget.
The situation is so pathetic that we learn the Budget Office
of the Federation is under severe migraine to raise even
recurrent votes for MDAs.
No doubt, this sad situation must have prompted the House
of Representatives to commence the ongoing investigation on
the non-implementation of the2015 budget. The House had
before going on its annual recess, set up an Ad-hoc Committee
to investigate what it called, the “non-implementation of
Capital budget and serial violation of the Fiscal Responsibility
Act.” The resolution was sequel to the passage of a motion
moved under privilege by Hon. Patrick Asadu from Enugu
Hon. Ahmed Pategi (APC-Kwara) is the chairman of the
Committee which is also to ascertain the performance of the
Federal Ministry of Finance in carrying out its mandate as
contained in the Appropriation Act, and Section 30 (1,2) of
the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. The Committee’s report is
expected to be submitted to the House on resumption.
There is no doubt that non-implementation of a budget is a
very serious offence by any president. The seriousness is such
that can lead to impeachment.
Specifically, sections 80-83 of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution
(as amended) clearly stipulates how monies belonging to the
Federal Republic of Nigeria can be kept and spent and clearly
vests in the National Assembly the powers to appropriate
monies for expenditure by government.
By provisions of sections 81 and 82, Federal Government
expenditures must be either as direct charges on the
constitution, as contained in the Appropriation Act or
supplementary Appropriation Act where applicable, or as
may be specifically prescribed by the National Assembly,
while section 30(1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, clearly
mandates the Hon. Minister of Finance through the Budget
Office, to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the
annual budget, and assess the attainment of fiscal targets
and report thereon on a quarterly basis to the Joint Finance
Committee of the National Assembly, and to also publish
same in the mass and electronic media not later than 30 days
after the end of each quarter of every financial year.
So far, we are not aware of any constitutional amendment
adjusting the financial year by the National Assembly nor
has any public announcement been made by the Ministry
of Finance in any mass and electronic media on the
implementation of the budget and attainment of fiscal targets.
Again, all efforts made by Nigerians to ascertain the position
of the budget met brick wall including that by Nigerian Pilot,
leading to a recent banner headline “ Buhari Dumps 2015
While we support the current efforts of the House of
Representatives to probe the non-implementation of this
year’s capital votes on behalf of the people of Nigeria, we urge
President Buhari to respect the laws of the land and the oath
he took on assumption office. That Nigerians are suffering in
the midst of plenty is not good news to the ear.