2016 Budget: a Wrong Step in a ‘Changed’ Direction
By Yussuf Ayodele*
Nigeria is a theatre of art, no doubt it is. After battling daily with doses of harsh economic and social-economic conditions, we are often compensated with a phantasmagoria of political dodoism. The din and ruckus surrounding the controversial misplacement of the 2016 budget is indeed a tragic comedy to behold. One wouldn’t have winked, nor moved an inch, if such flagrant show of cluelessness had surfaced in the six year spell of the previous administration. However, that such could happen in the so called change era is a myth requiring thoughtfulness to unravel and a folly worthy of condemnation. Should a sane mind then foolishly relish the short drama while the consequential disaster last forever?
Without being economical with the truth, the 2016 budget is a fraud, driven by a sinister agenda different from the change Nigerians bargain for. A little analysis would suffice.
One of the several lopsidedness in the 2016 budget is the proposed 3.87 billion naira on the state house clinic! Perhaps it is necessary to redefine what “the state house clinic” is, for only with such re-definition would one clearly see beyond the figures with the mouth agape. The so called “clinic” is one that provides healthcare service to the president and his “executive family” at the villa. One has to be mathematically magical for such executive minority to be greater than the sheer Nigeria population. Ironically, this “magic” was clearly manifest when the entire federal teaching hospitals, the heartbeat of Nigerian medical practitioners and the options available to the million masses was “compensated” with a mere 3.3 billion naira.
If that was a joke, then, there are far more hilarious comedies in the 2016 budget with ridiculous and bizarre figures. 800m naira for “maintaining” a website! Haba, Aboki! With all due respect, the website of the United States president costs less than $1m. Except if a dollar is now as much as ₦800 and Nigeria is now as big as the United States would there be no sneers. That not being enough, a whooping and whopping sum of “seven billion naira” to be lavished on reconstruction of the senate president’s residence! Is that supposed to be a “Burj el Arab?” Another 89.1 million naira set aside, not to build a kitchen nor reconstruct it, but this time to purchase some kitchen equipment. One would ask what happened to the same kitchen equipment bought for 273 million in the previous administration. An exhaustive analysis of the 2016 budget is not only redundant here (since that has been over rehearsed), but would also pollute and smear the better part of this article with unnecessary statistics. But to say the least, the 2016 budget is not only a joke, a disgrace, and a representation of unwholesome reality of governance in Nigeria as put by Omojuwa in his “wailing wailers”, but also a slam and a belittlement of Nigerians’ intelligence and disrespect as well as enslavement of our humanity.
The budget is one of the measurements of the proaction, sensitivity and seriousness of a government. Unfortunately, the 2016 budget does not reflect the change agenda that intoxicated Nigerians in voting in the current administration. One cannot be so foolish repeating the same process all the time and expecting a different result. Dubious budgets have been characteristically part of Nigeria for long and it is the hope of the people that the current administration would be the messiah to liberate them from such executive oppression of the ordinary masses. We all took to ranting and lambasting when the GEJ administration budgeted 1 billion naira for feeding his executive cabinet. Perhaps the current administration is not as hungry as the previous and so nothing was said on feeding. However, the latter seems more luxurious as the 1 billion naira not used for feeding now has to be used for the purchase of tables and chairs. Where lies the change then?
If the Buhari’s administration must continue to enjoy the support and confidence of the masses as it has during the election, then things must be right from the start, especially as it concern its first budget – a dial of its efficiency and its potency.
To whom much is given, much is expected. The change administration unarguably is the most endowed in terms of support, attention, focus and keen interest of the masses. A failure of this administration would therefore not only be disastrous to the present generation, but also unacceptable to the yet unborn.
The 2016 budget seems more of a “verbal yoyo” than a logical, ethical and rational document. One would wonder why a Garba Sheu would fain defend such “mystical” figures without regard for facts. Before opening a Pandora box with this deceitful budget and before taking the wrong step in the “changed” direction, we must consider its everlasting consequences which far overweight the goodies in its sinister and conspiratorial motives.
Let’s play the devil’s advocate and cut PMB some slack. Doing that will warrant us saying the President did not see or reviewed the document, cos if he did, he could never have sanctioned it (like some blinded buharists will like to console themselves). If that were true, then it can only mean we’re in worse trouble, for how can the man trusted so much by the masses display such high level of cluelessness? Its as good as saying he’s not fit for the job! Even the student union President of a higher institution must have reviewed a budget document of less than 10million naira for few thousand students not to talk of the President of over 170million people running to trillions of naira in such dark economic times!!! For our sake, it has better be the former than the latter.
The failure of the previous administration should be a great lesson for the present. The president is therefore encouraged to thoroughly review the budget himself (as it is almost obvious that he hasn’t), re-channel those gargantuan figures to more sensible and logical projects vis a vis power, education, employment, healthcare, and security if truly his promised change must tally with Nigerians expectations.
*Ayodele is an essayist and a social media activist