We’ve not started budgeting in Nigeria – Analyst

A budget expert, Emeka Ejikonye on Thursday said what Nigerians generally refers to a budgeting is mere fiscal policy making activities.

Mr Ejikonye, who was speaking on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, against the fallout between the presidency and the legislature over the benchmark price of crude oil in the 2013 budget, said until the Nigerian government “start doing budgeting, Eldorado will continue to elude us.”

Budget implementation: Senate demands details of funds released to MDAs for 2012

The controversy over the implementation of the 2012 budget seems not settled yet, as the Chairman Senate Committee on Rules and business, Senator Ita Enang, has accused the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) of failing to present to the national assembly details of the funds released to Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs).

Briefing journalists in Abuja, on Friday, Senator Enang stated the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) is required by law in the Appropriation Act, to present to the national assembly details of the funds released to government ministries, agencies and departments.

However, the Senator noted that the AGF has failed to do this, and in essence giving rise to the controversy of the performance of the budget.

According to him, the executive has thereby breached provisions of the 2012 Appropriation Act.

2012 Budget: Court to rule on Jonathan’s impeachment

A Federal High court sitting in Abuja has fixed Friday 14 September for ruling on whether or not to stop the House of Representatives from going ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan over alleged budget implementation offences.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole reserved the ruling after listening to an ex parte application brought by the national chairman of the African Liberation Party, Emmanuel Osita Okereke

The counsel to the plaintiff/applicant, Alex Williams had while moving the application prayed the court to grant an interim order restraining the leadership of the House of Representatives from proceeding with the impeachment as it was capable of distracting the president from discharging his duties.

However, Justice Kolawole said he needed time to study the processes to enable him deliver a ruling.

Listed as defendants in the suit are the Speaker of the House of Representatives; the House of Representatives; the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice and President Jonathan.

In his affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff stated that the move to impeach the president from office for non-implementation of 100 percent of the 2012 budget in July 2012 is heating up the polity.

He also averred that the September deadline issued by the house for 100 percent implementation of the budget which is three months earlier than the end of 2012 calendar year and six months from the end of the 2012 budget / fiscal year is a threat to political stability.

Aviation road show is not a jamboree – Minister’s aide

The Special Adviser to the Minister of Aviation, Oche Elias on Tuesday said that the road show planned by the Ministry of Aviation is not a jamboree but a means to attract more investors to the sector.

Mr Elias, who was speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the delegates to be on the road show will visit three countries within seven days and meet with 16 prospective investors.

In the video below, the aide to the aviation Minister speaks on the purpose of the planned trip and the current situation of the road show.

FG to commence clean up of Ogoni land

The Minister of Environment, Hadiza Mailafia has revealed that all is now set by the federal government to commence a drastic and adequate clean-up exercise of the oil spills in polluted Ogoni land.

Hajia Mailafia was addressing State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan where she presented the performance of her Ministry in the implementation of the 2012 Budget.

The Minister gave kudos to the Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi for providing the enabling environment for the initial tasks such as provision of portable water, marking out the wells that were too polluted and other framework activities.

She however blamed the delay in the take-off of the remediation effort on the strike that crippled the nation following the fuel subsidy protest, earlier in the year.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released a report a year ago detailing the massive extent of pollution in the Niger-Delta region, needing a $1billion for the remediation process.

According to the UNEP Report, “the environmental restoration of Ogoniland in Nigeria could prove to be the world’s most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertaken if contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and important ecosystems such as mangroves are to be brought back to full, productive health.”

Civil organisation and residents of Ogoni land on Sunday held a press briefing in Abuja to mark the one year since the UNEP result was released and decry the non-existence of government’s commitment to reclaim the land.

Budget: Economist proposes 5-year budget plan for effective implementation

Austin Nweze, an Economist in Budget and Financial Planning and lecturer at the Pan-African University, Lagos has proposed a 5-year budget plan as a strategy that would allow the effective implementation of projects that require long-term execution.

He said the implementation of annual budget plan is not feasible in a developing economy like Nigeria.

Mr Nweze who appeared on Channels Television’s  breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, also suggested the National Assembly should set up a committee with the oversight function of constant monitoring of government offices and parastatals involved in the execution of capital projects.



2012 Budget: Okonjo-Iweala confirms that 41 percent has been implemented

The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has confirmed that 41.3% of the 2012 capital budget has been implemented so far and that the implementation of the 2012 budget began in April after it was passed into law.

The Minister made this known while speaking at an interactive meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Appropriation on Thursday where she stated that President Goodluck Jonathan had been leading the drive for higher budget performance.

According to her, the sum of N1.3 trillion was appropriated for capital expenditure in the 2012 budget and out of this; the ministry has released N404 billion with N324 billion cash backed.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also stated that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) have used 56% of the funds cash backed for capital expenditure leaving 44% of the funds unused.

“So far, 56 per cent of the capital budget had been utilised while 44 per cent was still outstanding.”

“There is more room for utilisation. 56 per cent of the funds that has been released, has been used, meaning 44 per cent is still available for implementation” she said.

The Minister explained that, “if you measure what’s been implemented over the entire budget you get 13.7%. But because we’re talking about 4months, the implementation is 41%”

“The Federal Ministry of Finance is not holding back any budgeted funds. The CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) can confirm that” she added, denying that there has been selection of projects.

The ministry had been providing funds to Ministries, Departments and Agencies “in bulk” she said.

“We release resources to MDAs in bulk. There is no discrimination. We don’t have a selective approach” she added.

She added that the ministry has so far released N1.6 trillion for recurrent expenditure.

The Minister claimed she was misquoted by the media and that the figures being thrown around on the level of budget implementation are not true.

Constituency Projects

Ahead of the meeting, the Senators had been displeased at remarks purported to have been made by the Minister blaming the tardy fund releases on Constituency Projects added into the appropriation act by the legislators.

On her alleged statements on constituency projects, Dr Okonjo-Iweala clarified her position saying it is not true that the president has told ministries not to implement constituency projects.

According to her, ministries have already launched the procurement process for the constituency projects.

She assured that the execution of the budget would be kept within January-December, adding that the current practice of extending it to March of the following year should be discontinued.

She also promised that the 2013 budget would be submitted to the National Assembly by September this year.

Reps deny 56% budget implementation, claims only 34% so far

The House of Representatives has described as untrue claims by the federal government that it has implemented 56 percent of the 2012 budget.

At a press conference in Abuja on Sunday, the Spokesman of the House of Representatives Zakari Mohammed stated that only implemented 34 percent of the budget has been implemented.

The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday via the Minister of Finance confirmed that the implementation of the 2012 budget has reached 56% from 39% as at the end of May.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala further revealed that the 56% represents N324 billion of the N404 billion so far released.

Reacting to the planned impeachment threats by the lower legislative chamber to President Jonathan if the budget implementation is not at 100% before September, the former World Bank Manager stated that “there is nowhere in the world where budget is implemented 100% by September” insisting that from her experience the least any country has done is 80%.

Mr Mohammed at the press conference also noted that contrary to claims by the Minister of Finance, the introduction of constituency projects by the National Assembly is not the reason for the slow pace of the implementation of the budget.

He also said the House was not going back on its resolution to commence impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan if he failed to achieve 100 per cent implementation of the budget by September.

The minister’s claim came as part of government’s responses to the threat to commence impeachment proceedings against Jonathan.

Mohammed noted that by the finance minister’s statement, only N324bn of the N404bn released so far for capital project had been cash-backed in July.

He said, “This was the grouse of the House. We are in the seventh month, going to the eighth month of the year; out of N1.5tn, you have cash-backed only N324bn. That is not good enough; that is the point that is being made. The budget performance is not encouraging.”

“It is not true that the Executive arm has implemented as at today 56 per cent of the 2012 budget as widely reported.

“In truth, about 34 per cent of the budget has been implemented. What the minister admitted to, as can be confirmed from her own words, is that, at best government has implemented 56 per cent of the N404bn released to MDAs.

The House of Representatives had two weeks ago, threatened to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan over the failure to implement the budget.

Nigerian Army wants more money

Despite getting a massive lump of the 2012 budget, the deputy governor of Bayelsa state, John Jonah, has called for increased funding of the armed forces, to be able to deal with the nation’s internal and national security.

Mr Jonah, a retired Rear Admiral with the Nigerian Navy, made the appeal at the National Defence College, Abuja on Monday, where he delivered a lecture on national security, titled: Military Leadership and National Security.

The deputy governor observed that the nation spends just a mere 1 percent of its total GDP on defence.

He argued that contrary to the belief that the military enjoys huge budgetary allocation especially with the huge chuck of N921 billion allocated to security in the 2012 budget, “80 percent of the military budget goes on recurrent expenditure.”

Ethnic and religious violence along with terrorist attacks has compounded the challenges of internal security in the country.

But with the increasing pressure on the military to put an end to the destruction of lives and property, the guest lecturer says national security must override political interest if insecurity in Nigeria will be permanently tackled.

Other security experts at the summit agreed that it is imperative for the armed forces to develop more counter terrorism programmes and a more skillful approach to fighting crime.

The major recommendation from this meeting is the need for a well-articulated national security strategy that will clearly state mechanisms for intelligence gathering and information sharing among security agencies.




Jonathan presents 2012 Budget to the National Assembly

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan today, delivered a determined speech with which he presented the 2012 Budget to a joint session of the National Assembly, a budget he calls “a stepping stone to the transformation of our economy and country”.

It was Jonathan’s second appearance at the National assembly for budget presentation – his first since he was sworn in as president in May this year.

He was set to address them in the green chambers of the House of Representatives. His speech was preceded by a short opening remark by Senate President David Mark, who started by criticising the poor implementation of the 2011 budget, but said he had hopes for the implementation of the 2012 budget which amounts to N4.8 trillion, reports say.

“Let this budget be the one that will say, let there be light and there will be light,” Senator David Mark said.

President Jonathan says he intends for this 2012 budget proposal to be transformative. He says it comes at the end of a “long consultative process with key stakeholders and it translates the developmental plans of government unveiled in the transformation agenda into concrete actions”.

The president said the year ahead would “neither be easy or uncontested” but insists that with sharp focus, hard work and determination, the nation will attain its set goals.

He said the budget is based on fiscal consolidation, inclusive growth and will focus on job creation and provision of food security for the nation.
“We are living witnesses to the extent of volatility that can afflict the international oil market with prices plummeting from US$147 per barrel in July 2008 to about US$38 per barrel four months later.

“Although the oil price is currently over US$100 per barrel, there is no guarantee what it would be in the future.

President Jonathan insisted, despite the rise in spending in 2011, that Nigeria can no longer afford to continue in the same way.

“So far the Nigerian economy has weathered the storms,” he said, but added that efforts need to be reinforced to ensure economic stability and sustained growth.

“We cannot subject the well-being of Nigerians to such large fluctuations and must therefore protect ourselves by managing our finances prudently including by adopting a conservative benchmark oil price for our budgets.”

Explaining the failed implementation of the budget for the 2011, which he described as a “peculiar fiscal year” for the nation, President Jonathan listed a number of factors that obstructed the nation.

“The 2011 Elections, the subsequent inauguration of a new Administration last May and the passage of the 2011 Amendment Budget in May 2011 all affected the implementation of the budget in 2011.”

While the budget this year is 7.7 percent higher than last year’s N4.48 trillion budget, Jonathan said the FG would cut back on recurrent expenditure – form 74.4 percent this year to an expected 72 percent next year – further promising that more funds would be geared toward capital projects.

Jonathan also addressed the matter of the nation’s fiscal deficit, which he said is expected to be about 2.77% of GDP in the 2012 Budget compared to 2.96% in 2011.

He told lawmakers the 2012 spending plan was based on a benchmark oil price of $70 a barrel and production of 2.48 million barrels per day. The output projection is higher than expected and leaves little room for potential production outages, which have been common in the past.

President Jonathan further gave a sectorial breakdown of the 2012 budget with N3.98 trillion earmarked for statutory transfer, N560 billion for debt services and N2.472 trillion for recurrent non-debt expenditure.

Allocations to some critical sectors of the economy are as follows:

  • Security – N921.91 billion;
  • Power [including Bulk Trader, Nelmco, and Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO)] -N161.42 billion;
  • Works – N180.8 billion;
  • Education [excluding Universal Basic Education Commission, Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund (PTDF) & Education Trust Fund] – N400.15 billion;
  • Health – N282.77 billion; and Agriculture & Rural Development – N78.98 billion.
  • Water Resources – N39 billion;
  • Petroleum Resources – N59.66 billion;
  • Aviation – N49.23 billion;
  • Transport – N54.83 billion;
  • Lands & Housing – N26.49 billion;
  • Science & Technology – N30.84 billion;
  • Niger Delta – N59.72 billion;
  • Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) – N45.57 billion
  • Communications Technology – N18.31 billion.

The budget proposal assumed an exchange rate of 155 naira to the U.S. dollar, average inflation of 9.5 percent and GDP growth of 7.2 percent. Inflation is currently running in double digits and the naira is trading at above 160 against the U.S. dollar.

President Jonathan in his conclusion called on National Assembly to work with his administration in turning the economic agenda for the nation into reality.

“The 2012 Budget, as our collaborative effort, has taken the welfare of Nigerians as top priority. In an environment of global uncertainties and domestic challenges, the strong support of the National Assembly is invaluable for us to achieve our set developmental goals.”

In closing, House speaker Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, commended the President’s budget presentation. He also commented on the lateness of the budget submission, but promised that the House would work hard to ensure the budget is implemented fully.

Jonathan seeks adjustment to 2012 budget

Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday wrote the National Assembly asking for an adjustment in the 2012 budget which he signed into law last Friday.

Mr Jonathan is seeking an upward review of allocations to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Universal Basic Education (UBE), as their allocations under statutory transfers are usually calculated as a percentage of revenue accruing to the federal government.

With the upward adjustment of the oil benchmark from $70 initially proposed, to $72 as passed by the National Assembly, shortfalls of N1.91 billion and N1.97 billion respectively has arisen in the budget of the two organisations.

The president also requested that a separate subhead be created for the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), to make it easier for the board to effectively perform their monitoring mandate.

On the Niger Delta amnesty programme, the president observed that the budget as passed appeared to have given priority to the cost of administering the implementation of the programme rather than the core aspects of it.

The 2012 Appropriation Bill was signed into law last Friday by Mr. Jonathan.

The budget has an aggregate expenditure of N4.69 trillion whilst the total federal government revenue forecast is N3.5 trillion based on a benchmark oil price of $72 per barrel.
N1.32 trillion is earmarked for capital expenditure and N3.4 trillion is budgeted for recurrent expenditure.

N890 billion has been set aside to fund the government’s reduced petroleum subsidy payments, while the N180 billion for the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme is be deducted from federal accounts.