By Remi Oyeyemi
IN an administration fighting against corruption, that is in need of diversification, President Muhammadu Buhari has presented a budget that would appropriate N29.7 billion to his Ministry of Agriculture in comparison to N115 billion to a “do nothing” National Assembly. Even when you add the planned appropriation for the Universal Basic Education (N77.1 billion) together with the Ministry of Agriculture (N29.1billion), the National Assembly still gulps about N15 billion more than them. What a priority!
Nigeria is in need of security no doubt. But this ought not to be an excuse for duplication. President Buhari budgeted N294.5 billion for the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Interior also has a lot to do with the security of the country and has a budget of N145.2 billion. We also have the Nigeria Police Formation and Command budget at N283.09 billion. Then there is tucked somewhere in the budget something called Operation Lafiya Dole to cost Nigerian Tax Payers N10 billion. “Lafiya Dole” is an Hausa Language expression that means “Compulsory Peace” or “Peace by Force.” If you add up the four, it gives you N732.79 billion.
With over N732.79 billion to these all important Ministries and Departments that deal with our security, can President Buhari explain to Nigerians what his National Security Adviser would be doing with additional N57.7 billion? This National Security Adviser allocation is an amount that is higher than the funds allocated to the Ministries of Transportation, Water Resources, Works, Power and Housing put together! Haba!
President Buhari promised to create employment for Nigerian youths. But he budgeted only N7.8 billion for the Ministry of Labour and Employment. He also budgeted N9.5 billion for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, a sector that could easily generate high employment if properly funded and managed. Science and Technology Ministry received only N25.8 billion. Also remember that the Ministries of Transportation and Water Resources received N13.7 billion and N7.2 billion respectively.
The immediate paragraph above contains five of the most important ministries that could have positive impact on the people if any government is serious at all. Their total expenditure is N64 billion. This is less than what President Buhari allocated to his Minister of Special Duties: N72.8 billion! Pray, what are the Special Duties to be done that they should cost so much? Then add N45.3 billion allocated to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Office of the Head of Service, N6.4 billion. What further evidence of misapplication of funds do we need than all these?
President Buhari has allocated to the Federal Character Commission N2.09 billion! What do they do in that Commission that would cost the Nigerian Tax Payers this much just in one year? Then there is what is called Outsourced Services that would cost N5 billion and Presidential Amnesty Programme which would also cost N20 billion. Who are the targets of this Amnesty Programme? Is it Boko Haram Terrorists, or Niger Delta Militants?
Why did President Buhari budget N45 billion for INEC in a year when there is no national election? What is this money for? Is this money just for salaries or other assignments? If this amount is for assignments, what is the nature of those assignments? Nigerians deserve answers to these questions.
President Buhari needs to explain to Nigerians what Mr. Lai Mohammed would be doing with N39.1billion allocated to his Information Ministry that would be more important than what Ministry of Transportation N13.7 billion, Ministry of Water Resources N7.2 billion and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N10.5 billion would be doing? These three Ministries’ allocation put together is less than Lai Mohammed’s Ministry of Information!
How could President Buhari justify the proposed spending of N400 million on a weekend symposium? Yes, the 35th Annual General Meeting and Symposium of Shelter Afrique slated for June 2016! How can an administration that is yelling against wastage and corruption approve such amount of money for a two-day affair?
It is interesting to know that N2.3 billion would be showered on all former Heads of State, Presidents and their deputies just within one year alone. This is upon the mismanagement and tragedy they have all visited on this country. However, more interesting is the N19.9 billion budget that President Buhari and his coteries in the Presidency would spend in the coming year.
The most scandalous part of the Budget is what a commentator on social media described as follows:
“N1.75 billion for President Muhammadu Buhari’s feeding in 2016 is a direct attack on collective commonsense of Nigeria and a stark contrast to his promised change.
Is it not fraud for Buhari to deceive Nigeria by publicly drinking N10 Milo sachet (tea) during the Presidential election campaign? Even if Buhari is feeding Sharks, Whales and Buffaloes in Aso Rock, N1.75billion is too much for one man, when millions of Nigerians are finding it difficult to feed even once a day.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan was almost roasted for budgeting N1billion in 2011 and reducing it even to N717.3 million in 2013, N542 million in 2014 and N530 million in 2015, but Nigerians are silent on these reckless squandering by Dr. Buhari.”