EXPOSED!!! How Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly Is Working Against President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan

By Joshua Amaugo July 4, 2018 12:20

EXPOSED!!! How Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly Is Working Against President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan

Emerging investigation has revealed how the Senate President, Bukola Saraki-led 8th National Assembly hasbeen working round the clock to frustrate President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

According to investigation, over 90.6 percent of the 6,529 new projects inserted into the 2018 budget by the National Assembly, do not align with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.

BudgIT, a Public Finance Analytics organisation, which made this known yesterday, said that most of the items have a unit value below N200 million.

It said: “Out of the 6,529 new projects entered into the budget, 90.6 percent or 5918 items, have a unit value below N200 million.”

The investigation signed by Abiola Afolabi, Communications Lead of BudgIT, expressed displeasure with what it called, “the masking and insertion of several opaque items with little or no bearing on the economy”, by the National Assembly.

Also, the projects cannot be directly linked to the written, medium-term aspirations of the government, as highlighted in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

“An analysis of the inserted projects, show that N63.64 billion, or approximately 11 percent of the new projects added by the National Assembly, will be spent on various training and capacity building programmes in 2018.”

Given that the budget will be largely funded by borrowing (as highlighted in the 2018 fiscal plan), it is disheartening to discover that most of the identified line items therein, show a significant disconnect from the developmental goals of government, as stated in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.

Afolabi said: “We are alarmed at the number of micro-projects added by the National Assembly, that may not fall within the core scope of the Federal Government.

“We also noticed that the new projects inserted into the budget are fragmented, and budget line items are accompanied with vague descriptions that will prove difficult to monitor or track in physical and auditing terms.

“It is equally essential for the National assembly to explain the rationale behind the increased allocations to itself, as such cannot be justified, given the abysmal distribution to the education and health sector, considering that the National Assembly increased its budgetary allocation, from N125 billion to N139.5 billion.

“We also observed that projects valued at N13.16 billion were canceled altogether, without detailed explanation by the National Assembly”, Afolabi lamented.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had accused the National Assembly of cutting N347 billion from 4,700 critical projects, and injecting 403 unnecessary projects at the cost of N578 billion, stressing that the proposals introduced by the Lawmakers were neither properly conceptualized, designed nor costed.

President Buhari had noted that the projects were supposed to be carried out by States and Local Government Areas.

The President, who did not hide his reservation on how the budget was handled by the National Assembly, said he was compelled to sign the budget in the interest of Nigerians, and in order not to shut down the recovery of the economy, which has been affected by the delay in passing the budget.

He said: “As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, we intend to use the 2018 Budget to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets, and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, 2017-2020. It is in this regard that I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented. The logic behind the constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive, is that it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.

“Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me. The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration, and introduced 6,403 projects of their own, amounting to 578 billion Naira. Many of the projects cut are critical, and may be difficult, if not impossible to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualised, designed and costed, and will therefore, be difficult to execute.

“Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly, have been added to the budgets of most MDAs, with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them, or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.

“As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened”, Buhari said.

Meanwhile, further investigation shows that members of the National Assembly are known for paying themselves billions of Naira in illegal allowances, which they refer to as running cost.

These allowances have not been clearly captured in specific budget subheads, meaning that they are vaguely inserted into other spending items.


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