Where is the National Assembly’s budget?

Buhari, Lawan and Gbajabiamila: Where is the National Assembly budget?
Buhari, Lawan and Gbajabiamila: Where is the National Assembly budget?

By Tolulope Agunloye

Since the 8th Assembly released its budget to the public in 2018, the 9th Assembly is yet to practice Open Budget or Fiscal Transparency which is a thematic area under Open Government Partnership Nigeria signed on to.

To reiterate, a budget is an expenditure plan which explains how funds will be spent on both recurrent and capital expenditures.

It is quite worrisome that the parliament with the powers to scrutinize the nation’s budget is not interested in opening their expenditure plan to the people they represent.

In the 2021 proposed budget, the National Assembly has an allocation of N128bn.

This allocation has a N3bn increase when compared with the revised 2020 approved budget.

The revenue shortfall due to the pandemic–and the report that Nigeria has officially entered a recession–means that zero-based budgeting will assist the government in curbing all excesses.

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified for each new period.

Now, this is the question; How can a zero-based budgeting system be practiced if we do not have an idea of how allocations to the nine agencies under the statutory allocation are being spent?

Similarly, the number of people living below the poverty line of N137,430 per year has increased to 83 million Nigerians whilst the inflation rate increased by 14.31% in September 2020.

There is no better time to reiterate the need to reduce our cost of governance and some excesses in the proposed 2021 budget. For example, the “State House Sewerage and Residential Rent” which amounts to over N112bn got the attention of the public on the frivolous budget being funded by citizens’ taxes.

The same energy should be channelled to the absence of NASS’ detailed budget breakdown, especially since this budget will be funded by the nation’s already scarce resources.

A look at the allocations of N128bn to the National Assembly, when compared with the allocation to the Education sector, reveals that the combined total capital allocation for 27 Federal Polytechnics (N10.34bn), 21 Federal Colleges of Education (N5.49bn), 47 Federal Universities (N18.88bn) and 104 Unity Schools (N16.44bn) totalling N51.16bn is two and a half times (2.5) lesser than the National Assembly budget.

The year 2020 has been challenging for Nigerians as they have been affected by increments in the prices of fuel, food items and electricity tariffs.

Similarly, the number of people living below the poverty line of N137,430 per year has increased to 83 million Nigerians whilst the inflation rate increased by 14.31% in September 2020.

These indicators show that the economy is not booming and the budget deficit is inevitable, yet loans that will enable budget implementation might be used to fund certain agencies that are hoarding their budgets.

A look at the allocations of N128bn to the National Assembly, when compared with the allocation to the Education sector, reveals that the combined total capital allocation for 27 Federal Polytechnics (N10.34bn), 21 Federal Colleges of Education (N5.49bn), 47 Federal Universities (N18.88bn) and 104 Unity Schools (N16.44bn) totalling N51.16bn is two and a half times (2.5) lesser than the National Assembly budget.

Nigerians have complained about the Education budget every year not meeting the UN benchmark, yet the National Assembly which houses 469 legislators and several aides increased their budget by N3bn, from N125bn to N128bn without details of the breakdown.

According to BudgIT’s proposed 2021 budget analysis report;
“The biggest waste in the Nigerian budget is the inefficiency in its fragmented capital expenditure. Nigeria spends on statutory transfers and overhead costs but … the National Assembly and other statutory agencies can lead by example by applying more transparency and also reducing their budget”.

Nigerians should “Sọ̀rọ̀ sókè” to end fiscal opacity, high cost of governance and police brutality, among others.

I am already doing my part with this article. Kindly do yours.

*Tolutope Agunloye, is Head of Open Government & Institutional Partnerships at BudgIT.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.