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This House is empty

by Business News Report

Nigerians face a lot of challenges every day. Life, the most sacrosanct thing in other societies is nothing here. Nigerians die in droves by the day due to serious security challenges the nation is faced with. Nobody has had the courage to ask for the impeachment of the President for not protecting lives and property he swore to as the number one citizen of Nigeria to whom all Nigerians collectively surrendered their sovereignty. The House of Representatives do not see this as serious enough to task Mr. President.

But just last week, the members of the House of Representative came up with the agenda of impeachment of the President for not implementing the budget to their satisfaction as at July 2012. Every Nigerian subscribes to Mr. President improving the lot of the nation by implementing the budget. The threat is a wake up call for Mr. President, who many see as sleeping on duty, to do his job and call to order Ministers, Heads of Department and Agencies of government who are not performing their duties creditably. It is even time for a proper shake up of key officers of this administration.

Be this as it may, it is very curious that the members of the House of Representatives are asking for the head of the President over budget implementation. The First question is, is budget implementation more serious than security even when a senator was killed in cold blood? Is it not when Nigerians are alive and secured that they could talk about their welfare? When was the budget in question passed? When was it supposed to have been passed to meet the nation’s budget circle? When did the 2011 budget expire? Who caused the delay in the passage of the 2012 appropriation bill?

Except this House members are leaving in self delusion, they do not really mean what they said as they do not expect that in four months, this government would have achieved much in budget implementation. Nigeria is not known to implement capital budget in a jet speed. It would have been news if the recurrent expenditure is the issue at stake. Recurrent has always been 100 per cent implemented while capital budget at best is 60 per cent implemented. President Umaru Yar’Adua was the first Nigerian President to order Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to return unspent capital budget. Many did top the chagrin of the nation.

Take the 2011 budget for instance, implementation of the budget in the 2011 fiscal year posed critical challenges according the report in the Ministry of Finance website. The Director, Budget office, Mr. Bright Okogun, in his report on the 4th quarter of 2011 budget implementation just released said “Indeed, added to the late passage of the 2011 Budget, the peculiarity of 2011 as a political transition year with the attendant implication for the constitution of a new Cabinet, the implementation of the Budget was difficult due to receipt of less than projected net revenues. On the expenditure side, while recurrent expenditure was on target, implementation of the capital budget had to be extended to 31 March 2012 in order to allow MDAs more time to implement the budget. The poor implementation of MDA’s capital projects is partly attributable to poor project management practices by some MDAs.” Did the House members read this observation in the Ministry of Finance report on 2011 budget implementation report?

The implementation of the capital budget in 2011 was extended to 31March 2012 in order to give MDAs the opportunity to improve on implementation of their capital projects. If that is the case, when did the implementation of 2012 begin? How fast was its implementation supposed to be? What makes 2012 so different from other years that the House is threatening impeachment? Is there some self serving underlying interest? Nigerians need full disclosure. Should not these members have discussed with their colleagues in the executive arm of government? Is the legislative arm no longer part of the government? Were these members not part of the delay in the passage of the 2012 budget?

The Data from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation indicates a significant improvement in MDAs’ utilization of funds as at 31 March, 2012 with an overall average utilization of over 87 per cent of the cash-backed funds available for the implementation of their capital projects/programmes. The data also showed that only N713.14 billion (or 87.9 per cent) of the total cash-backed amount had been utilized by MDAs as at 31st March, 2012. An analysis of the fifty-three (53) MDAs reported upon by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) indicated varied level of utilization rates. Forty seven (or 88.68 per cent) of the MDAs including: Agriculture, Education Water Resources, Works, Transport, Niger Delta, Defence, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Presidency, Trade & Investment and Information & Communication, each had overall average utilization rate of 87.9 per cent.

Thirty eight out of these (or 71.7 per cent of the MDAs) including Defence, Education, Water Resources, Presidency, Police Service Commission, Auditor-General, Office of the National Security Adviser, Foreign & Inter-Governmental Affairs, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Federal Civil Service Commission and National Wages & Salaries had utilization rates of over 95 per cent of their respective cash-backed releases. The utilization report further shows that six MDAs (or 11.32 per cent) which includes Women Affairs, Petroleum Resources, Revenue Mobilization, Finance, Code of Conduct Bureau and Health had utilized less than 87.9 per cent.
Going by past performance it is too early to judge the performance of the 2012 budget.

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