Improper Budget Processes Responsible For Nigeria’s Backwardness – Pat Utomi

A renowned Professor of Economics, Pat Utomi, has blamed Nigeria’s backwardness on the lack of vision as well as absence of consultation of the masses in the budget processes which according to him, is made worse by leaders without capacity.

Professor Utomi who was a guest speaker at the maiden Budget Roundtable Seminar of the UNIzik Business School of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

Speaking on the theme: Budget Processes in Nigeria, Challenges and Implication in National Development, he trailed the problem of the country from the military era to over dependence on oil and to the cluelessness of some Nigerian leaders.

He stated that as a matter of urgency, a complete and total reform of government is what the country needs.

Furthermore, he advocated leadership brilliance and disciplined execution of budgets which would have peoples’ priorities reflected in order to save the economic situation in the country.

Other speakers also insisted that a budget must contain what the people want, while putting in perspective, future economic challenges and changes for easy and proper adaptation and adjustment.

Keynote speaker and House member representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo federal constituency, as well as the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Mr Chris Azubogu, noted that asides poor funding of budget, lopsided budgeting, deficit and high profile debt profile, citizen participation is a major factor affecting the actualization of the national budget.

He however gave an assurance of imminent budget reforms.

Analysts List Faults In Sanusi’s 5 Year Tenure As CBN Governor

Legal practitioners, Liborous Oshomah and Kenneth Odidika on Saturday listed what they found wrong in Lamido Sanusi’s five year reign as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, while speaking on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise.

Oshomah, who was of the opinion that the government fell out of favour with Sanusi, argued that the suspended governor’s tenure was characterised by crisis and inconsistencies.

While praising the former CBN Governor, Charles Soludo, for managing challenges without raising alarms, Oshomah stressed that many of the decisions taken by Sanusi, while in office, were controversial.

He also mentioned the issue of the banking crisis which resulted in several banks folding up and thousands of workers being laid off, stressing that banks are still unable to recover from it.

While commenting on the controversies exposed by Sanusi including the 25% allocation of the national budget to the National Assembly, and the NNPC missing money, Oshomah said the suspended governor waited until the near end of his tenure to hit the government he is a part and parcel of.

“If you want to be a critic of the government, it is better to be out of that government,” he said.

On the inconsistency which trailed the figures released by the CBN as NNPC missing money, Oshomah asked why it took Sanusi so long to raise the alarm and faulted inconsistencies in the figures disclosed, adding that, calculations should have been done privately before going public.

“I think all of this should have been done underground so when you come out with your figures, people would solidly believe you, stand behind you and say that look this man knows what he’s talking about. But the way he went about it showed that all of a sudden the amount went from 49 to 10 billion.

10 billion is much, I agree, but for somebody at that level, I think once you speak we ought to believe.”

Speaking on the powers vested on the CBN governor, Oshomah said the apex bank is not a sovereign on its own and faulted Sanusi for acting as if the CBN was a country on its own and he the president.

On his part, Kenneth Odidika described Sanusi as a “very brilliant man who seemed not to appreciate the enormity of the responsibilities of the office he occupied.”

Odidika went ahead to label the suspended governor a ‘talkative’ whose good diction and spoken English and “musical voice” is mere theatrics ‘from Hollywood.’

“For a central bank governor to be in every forum, talking both about the economy and all things that are not related about the economy, that was unbecoming of Sanusi, as Central Bank Governor. I could go as far as saying that Sanusi was irresponsible in discharging or not discharging his responsibilities as central bank governor.”

NASS Gets Only 3 Percent Of National Budget, Focus On The 97 Percent – Abaribe

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Information, Enyinnaya Abaribe on Monday called on Nigerians, particularly those who have called for a reduction in the National Assembly’s budget, to direct their focus on the other arms of government which represents 97 percent of the National Budget, as the Assembly only represents three percent.

According to information from National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria has a poverty level of 65% while figures from the Ministry of Finance show that from 2005-2013, approximately N1 trillion was allocated to the National Assembly.

Reacting to the call for a reduction, Abaribe accused former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, of making statements that “has made the rest of the country feel that there is something untoward” about the monies allocated to the National Assembly adding that “the ministry of education under her, for the past 10 years, has gotten more than 300 billion per annum”.

“Why do we need a ministry of education if they have spent 3 trillion and we still have ASUU strike” he asked.

Mr Abaribe reiterated that the Assembly only gets 3% of the total National Budget adding that even if the Assembly is scrapped, there would still be 97% to contend with.

He continued by saying: “the right question to ask actually is, what exactly do we have to do to refuse the cost of governance?” adding that the focus should not be on the National Assembly which he described as a ‘little part”.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he disclosed that the Assembly got N150 billion in allocation for the year 2013.

Economist Calls On National Assembly To Cut Down Its Budget

An economist, Gabriel Idahosa has said that it is possible for the nation’s capital expenditures to dominate 50 percent of its budget only if the National Assembly takes the lead by cutting down on its budget.  

Speaking on the 2014/2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy on Channels Television’s Business Morning, Mr Idahosa highlighted the significance of the programme, adding that the plan will allow the policy makers to “be on the same page” and “have a three year view of where policy direction is moving”.

The 2014/2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy is a new plan by the government to have a three year framework guiding its budget.

Mr Idahosa explained that what the government has done for the past seven years is rather than do a yearly budget. However, the new plan will produce a three year framework around which fiscal policies including exchange, level of capital expenditure, recurrent expenditure, will be created.

“The framework enables everyone involved (National Assembly, federal, state and local governments) to have a view of what’s going to happen over that 3 year period and see the connection between each of the budgets for each of these three years”.

Speaking on the way the budget and how recurrent expenditures gulps 70 percent, Mr Idahosa said that  the government is still struggling to move more of our budget to capital expenditure and away from the dominance or a recurrent expenditure.

He expressed hope that the recurrent expenditures of the nation would take 50 percent of the budget and 50 percent for capital expenditures.

However, he was quick to stress that it would only be possible if the government, particularly the National Assembly, expressed strong political will and is ready to lead by example.

“It requires a very strong political will. It requires also some amount of sacrifice by various arms of government starting (of course) with the National Assembly.

The National Assembly has to really tell Nigerians at some point that they are there to serve the people. They want to show example. They want to cut down on their own budget and tell the rest of government to cut down” the way they have done.