By Yinka Odumakin
MALLAM Audu used to have a kiosk as you crossed from Moremi Hall to Awolowo Hall in Ife in those days. We bought little items from from the wares he displayed close to the health centre. After payment was made, Audu was usually not so quick with giving out the change, so, we would yell at him in our smattering knowledge of the Hausa Language: “Mallam,bani Changi!
For all those persuaded that all we needed to bring about CHANGE in Nigeria is one man of integrity while keeping the crooked structure that survives only on the oxygen of corruption must be screaming “Bani changi!” after going through the 2016 budget proposals laid before the joint session of the National Assembly recently.
President Buhari himself betrayed the limitations of what one man’s moral can do in a totally depraved system when he revealed during his maiden media chat that he refused the sum of N400m appropriated to buy cars for him but that his officials persuaded him to accept, that cars be purchased for use of visiting heads of state and all that when the dire straits we are in compels that we rely on hired taxis to receive such people so they would know that we are not in party mood. By the time they were done, the Presidency whose head felt buying cars should not be our priority now is to spend N3.6b on Salon cars.
Presidency’s mockery of the times
There are many other expenditure items in the presidency that are scandalous and mock the times that we are in. There is the N189.1m voted for tyres for various vehicles, including the bulletproof and plain Mercedes Benz cars being used in the Presidency. The budget for the Presidency has been raised to N39b from N24.4b in the 2015 budget with N1,415,706,197 devoted to both local and international travels as against N944m spent in 2015. We should be spending more time to find home-grown solutions to our problem given the global economic turmoil that we are witnessing.
At a time when we are not sure if human beings would be able to feed, the N24m budgeted for the purchase of exotic animals in 2015 has been increased to N326m in 2016.
A further breakdown of the 2016 budget for the Presidency includes other ridiculous headings such as : general renovation of the Guest House (N387m); complete furnishing of the Guest House (N45m); purchase of computers (N27.5m) and construction and provision of recreational facilities at N764m.
Other insensitive expenditures on the Presidency’s vehicles include N39.8m for the purchase of an unspecified number of 200 amps, 100 amps and 60 amps Mercedes Benz batteries for bulletproof vehicles while N30m is to be expended on the purchase of tool boxes, car jacks, and diagnostic machines for bulletproof cars. The purchase of C-Caution triangles, fire-extinguishers and cables is to cost N27m.
The uproar generated nationally in 2015 over the N1billion budget for food in the villa did not stop the almost 100% increase on the same heading to N1.75billion in 2016 at a time “fellow Nigerians” are being summoned to tighten their belts!
In the same vein, the acquisition of presidential canteen materials and kitchen equipment increased from N83.1m in 2015 to N89m in 2016. Where are those purchased last year? We have not been told yet that the last occupiers of Aso Rock went away with kitchen equipment and as such it is sheer waste to make such an item a recurrent expenditure.
A whopping sum N114.4m is to be expended on the upgrade of internet infrastructure in the State House with another N22.5 to be spent on purchasing internet servers.
In what appears as cooking up items to justify frittering of resource, a nebulous “Active Devices for State House Network” is to cost N100m and N35m is to be expended on the purchase of security appliances and licences, including computer anti-virus software. God have mercy!
The binge continues, the Office of the National Security Adviser where out of the N90.3 billion budget for 2016, N8.7 billion is to be expended to develop the ONSA’s “All-Eye” surveillance project and N9 billion to construct a salacious b “Stravinsky Project”.
Securing the nation
The ONSA’s security vote, including funds for operations, is put at N576m.
The Department of State Security Service (DSS) has N2.2 billion for its 2016 security vote. The Presidential Air Fleet is to spend N262.4m on Air Navigation equipment.
Other wasteful items under the Presidency’s 2016 budget include: N55,670,000 for installation or budget planning software; N272,646,891 for Upgrading of mechanical and electrical power line (underground) supplies to the State House; N322,421,971 for linking of cable to drivers’ rest room at Villa Admin and N213,873,953 for linking of cable from House No 9 Generator House to the gate.
The craze continues with N618,604,265 for installation of electrical lightings and fittings; N191,592,132 for electrical installation of distribution boards and other cables; N22,861,449 for provision of stage curtains and electrical drive; N10,416,146 for installations of electrical materials and luminaries.
There have been a lot of rhetorics about “diversification ” of the economy to the point that people were expecting that the 2016 budget would pay serious attention to non-oil sources especially the solid mineral sector. Alas, only a paltry N9b was voted for solid mineral, just a quarter of the N40b that has been earmarked to search for oil in the Lake chad at a time when IMF has projected that oil may fall to $20 a barrel as against our $38 projection. Peradventure oil is found in the North East, who is going to invest in the place given the security situation in that area? This is at best a sentimental voyage!
The President was right when he said that there is the need to secure Nigeria and then manage it. But we also need to manage what resources we devote to securing the country. We have N294.5 billion budgeted for the Ministry of Defence,the Ministry of Interior has a budget of N145.2b, Nigerian Police Formation and Command has N283.09 billion.
There is another N10b voted for Operation Lafiya Dole. If the four items are added with the N57.7 billion voted for the office of the National Security Adviser we have N799.04 billion devoted to security out of a N6.08 trillion!
Neglect of Agriculture
There is no rationale for the N39 billion voted for the Ministry of Information in the 2016 budget as against the N9 billion allocated to the same Ministry in 2015. Are we to consume more propaganda in this appropriation year? It boggles the mind further when it is realised that the N39.1billion allocated to the Information is more than the combined budgets of Ministry of Transportation N13.7 billion, Ministry of Water Resources N7.2 billion and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N10.5 billion. The Information Ministry also has a higher vote than the Ministry of Agriculture N29 billion and Solid Mineral N9 billion. Yet, these are two key ministries crucial to diversification of our economy to meet the challenges of our reality.
It is doubtful if our policy makers came across Rick Rowden’s article titled “Africa’s Boom Is Over” where he opined as follows:
Today, I’m sorry to say, it looks like the skeptics were right. Oil and commodity prices are plunging, China’s purchases are slowing, and GDP growth rates across the continent are in steep decline. Reflecting these trends, the IMF has cut its 2015 projection for growth in sub-Saharan Africa from 4.5 to 3.75 percent, concluding that the decade-long commodity cycle that had raised African export revenues “seems to have come to an end.” With a population boom on the horizon, experts now worry about how the continent will produce enough jobs for its people.
Africa and arrested development
Africa’s plight is reflected by developments in its two leading economies, Nigeria and South Africa, which together account for 55 percent of the 48 sub-Saharan African nations’ GDP, and which have both been particularly hard hit by falling mineral and oil prices. Nigeria’s growth rate has slumped to 2.4 percent in the second quarter, the slowest pace in at least five years, while South Africa’s economy contracted by an annualised 1.3 percent as power shortages curbed output.
The fall in commodities prices has hit other oil producers, too, such as Angola and Ghana, while Zambia, the continent’s second-biggest copper producer, has suffered as copper prices have plunged to a six-year low.”
Nigeria has to smell the coffee. We must come to terms with the fact that the 2016 budget proposals is a great goof that betrays lack of appreciation of the need to CHANGE our ways. A return to the drawing board is necessary.
We must urgently disperse powers to the federating units so they can start in earnest the exploration of non-oil minerals under their soil and create new corridors of prosperity.
There is too much resources in Abuja with little responsibility which is the reason scandalous spendings would continue to be its lot. To continue to do what brought us to where we are and call it CHANGE is sheer deception. Give us the real change now!
Culled from vanguardngr.com