By Nuel Suji – The Nigerian Senate may have resolved to slow down the passage of the 2018 budget over what it perceived as lack of seriousness and shoddy budget proposal by the Executive arm, even as Senators decried the poor implementation of 2017 budget.
The federal lawmakers also expressed concern that President Muhammadu Buhari has reneged on his commitment to implement at least 40-60 percent of the capital budget in the current budget, observing that the current level of implementation is less than 12 percent.
The lawmaker raised said it would be impossibility to pass the 2018 budget this year as earlier promised considering the shoddy preparation and other anomalies in the budget.
He said, “it is important that you allow me proceed under order 42 and 45 because I feel that there are certain aspects that this senate has a very important responsibility to discuss. The reason been that when we suspended plenary for 2 weeks, it was with the understanding that the various committees will work and the product of that work would have given us an insight into meeting our pledge to pass the national budget before the end of the year or as soon as possible first or second week of January.
According to Na’Allah: “By today we would have passed the budget or agree on a tentative date to which we can pass the budget. From what I have seen, I know we will fall into trouble waters. This is because for whatever reason, we have not appreciated what the situation is. It is important for us and Nigerians who voted for us to come here to understand what the problems are.
“The template for doing budget which we have inherited and which we have continued to put into use has always turned out to be problematic to us the reason been that it was a template provided under the military regime,” he added.
That template cannot give this nation the kind of budget that the nation deserves,” the deputy senate leader argued.
Noting further that, “With the reports we have received so far, it is obvious that we have problems, it is important we lay this problem bare in the face of Nigerians so that people will understand what the peculiarities are and what the difficulties are.
“Where we have the 2017 budget which we can variably say that it has not been executed as of today and we are considering the 2018 budget.
“The president has made it clear that more than 60 per cent of what was proposed in the 2016 budget will be carried over to the 2017 budget. The report we have received so far is showing that nothing like that has happened. We have a responsibility to look at that and then explain the situation so that we can have a better understanding of where we are going to proceed and then our commitment to bring this budget as early as possible.”
Also, Senator Barnabas Gemade who spoke in same vein, said that the President promised to roll over 60 percent of the budget into 2018 budget proposal is not reflected on the proposal submitted for consideration before the various committees.
He said, “There are certainly a galaxy of problems that we have seen associated with this budget to the point where this expectation will not be a reality at this time.
“We do appreciate the desire of the executive to ensure they return budget year to Jan.-Dec. for which reason we are going to fast track a number of things to ensure that the budget does not go into May or June as has always been done in the previous years. We must fast tract it in a way that we have the budget by January. For this reason, they say 40 per cent of capital budget will be implemented in 2017 and the remaining 60 per cent will be rolled over in 2018 so that the budget year can be brought back to January.
What we have seen is very far from this assertion.
“First of all, there is no clear indication whatsoever that 40 per cent of 2017 capital budget has been implemented. With many MDAs that percentage is still hovering around 12 to 15.”
Other senators who spoke believed that the Executive wish is less likely to come to pass, blaming it on seeming lack of seriousness on the part of the executive to defend the budget.
The Senators pick holes in the 2018 budget querying claims that 60% of capital projects in the 2017 budget was “rolled over” into 2018.
The lawmakers think there is nothing in the books to show that 40% of the capital projects in the budget has been implemented or even have correlation with 2018 budget.
They also argued that most of the entries in the capital component for the 2018 budget are not consistent with that of 2017.
In his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki appealed to the lawmakers to work on the 2018 budget with what is available to them while calling on the executive arm to buckle up.
In his words, ” by now 2017 budget should have been implemented either 40 or 60 percent but this has not been the case. This makes it very difficult for us, we cannot turn into magicians.
“I continue to appeal that you work within what you have and let us do our best to ensure that we have a budget that is in the interest of Nigerians. The executive on their part need to sit up and not just rhetoric, but really get down to work. If 2017 budget items are not rolled over to 2018, that is a disaster.
“It means that most of them are misrepresenting the actual grounds to the leadership of the executive. If the documents are not showing that, then that is a serious problem. Let the executive show some seriousness toward the budget exercise.”