Buhari’s Legislators and their Bad Verse
Iwish all of you my readers, a very merry Christmas. May the love and joy of the season, fill your homes and lives. Amen.
Passing the 2020 Budget: A Conspiracy?
Is there really any hope for Nigeria? I’m beginning to sincerely doubt it. As long as those that occupy and dominate the political landscape remain there, sadly, our dear country will continue on the downward spiral that it is already in, and end up in complete failure.
By virtue of Section 82 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) (the Constitution), there should be a commencement and termination date of a financial year (in Nigeria, the financial year follows the Gregorian calendar, that is, January 1 - December 31), and the Appropriation Bill should be passed into law, in time for the commencement of the new financial year. It had however, become the norm that the budget is always passed very late, sometimes up to six months late or thereabouts. Be that as it may, I think it is imperative to have a good, workable, realistic budget, more so than the speed at which it is passed. The quality of a budget and its contents, are number-one. Rather unfortunately, our 2020 budget cannot be said to be prodigious.
Is it ‘commendable’ that the 9th National Assembly was able to achieve the feat of passing the budget in record time, or is there a conspiracy between the Executive and Legislature, that is, a rubber stamp Legislature in exchange for the Legislature receiving obscene amounts of money for lavish expenditures and exorbitant salaries, to shut them up, and do the the bidding of the Executive without any hesitation? Again, another of our home grown aberrations from a principle of democracy - Baron de Montesquieu’s doctrine of separation of powers, where the three arms of government are supposed to be co-equal and act as checks and balances on each other - not co-conspirators to act against the will and welfare of the people, contrary to Sections 14(2)(b) and (c) and 16(1) and (2) of the Constitution.
Our 2020 so-called “Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation”, is somewhat based on unrealistic projections of oil revenue, and has a deficit of over N2 trillion, which is meant to be funded by borrowing. How can a budget which comprises mostly of recurrent expenditure, statutory transfers and debt servicing, with very little apportioned to capital expenditure, be a budget of growth and job creation? How can a budget in which over two-thirds of the expenditure generates no return on investment, whether in the short, medium or long term, because the expenditures are not investments but ‘operating expenditures’ (Opex, not Capex), be one that will sustain growth and create jobs? Is it magic?
The N37 billion Renovation Government has now re-presented its proposal (which was rejected by the 8th National Assembly (NASS)), to borrow another $30 billion? What for? For useless, non-revenue generating expenditure, like spending N37 billion on renovating the NASS? Financial Institutions worldwide, should stop borrowing Nigeria money, if the funds are not to be utilised for projects like important infrastructural development which will be of benefit to the people and the country, if they do not ascertain that the costs of the projects are not inflated, if they do not ascertain that the projects are to be executed by those best suited and qualified to execute them, and if they are not going to oversee such projects to completion.
You know that I told you a couple of weeks ago on this page, that our own home grown democracy is “Government of Politicians, by Politicians, for Politicians”? Not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you (the opposite of the famous words of John F Kennedy)! I became more more convinced that this is the true position of things in Nigeria, when I listened to Senator Sabi Abdullahi, the proponent of the Hate Speech Bill, in a telephone interview last Wednesday evening. I once again received the confirmation that, Government and Politics in Nigeria, is about milking the country dry; it is about creating a new wealthy class made up of Government Officials, Politicians and their families; I now understood that, the 9th Senate and Executive are involved in a scheme, to act against the interest and welfare of the people generally - as long as they benefit personally, and at the same time, have also contrived to silence Nigerians and stop us from expressing our displeasure at their misactions.
We are aware that Chapter 2 of the Constitution contains the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, that is, what Government is obliged to do for the people and the country, while Section 4(2) of the same Constitution, gives the NASS the powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation. But, both the Executive and the Legislature, seem to be failing in their constitutional mandates, while the Judiciary, unfortunately, may only be doing slightly better than the other two arms. I have since realised that, the real essence of the Hate Speech Bill is not just to gag Nigerians from speaking against this administration and their misactions, like replacing all officials who may or may not have completed their tenures in their various offices, with mostly Northerners (contrary to the Federal character provisions contained in Section 14(3) of the Constitution) - but also to guard against people expressing their displeasure about things like the N37 billion NASS proposed futile renovation expenditure, of a building that cost N7 billion or so to erect.
What value does a renovation at such an exorbitant cost, bring to Nigerians generally? None. An amount that is almost the same as that budgeted for education for the whole of Nigeria (and for health as well), for the benefit of less than 500 lawmakers alone, out of a population of approximately 200 million Nigerians! Are the lawmakers and their insatiable lust for wealth and comfort, more important than the education and future of our children, our hope for tomorrow? It is simply preposterous and irresponsible to consider spending such an amount for that type of thing, when for example, some Governors are still resisting the N30,000 minimum wage for workers, in spite of the fact that it has been passed into law, and even Pensioners all over the country are still being owed their entitlements, and are dying due to poverty and hunger, having served the country for at least 35 years (most of their prime productive years).
Senator Sabi Abdullahi’s Response I was disgusted when I listened to Senator Abdullahi’s justification, for spending such an atrocious amount of money on renovations. Aside from the fact that, he really did not have one sensible reason to defend or rationalise the expenditure, he was rather condescending. His excuse was similar to that of Senator Dayo Adeyeye, who tried to justify spending N5 billion on vehicles for Senators - that, other Government Parastatals also spend a lot (or something like that) on those type of things, so, “kilode ti eyin Nigerians fe ju mo Senate?”(so, why are you Nigerians ‘opening your eyes widely’ (that is, placing so much emphasis) on the Senate’s expenditure)? Nigerian Government Officials and members of the ruling party, are so fond of justifying their bad behaviour, with retorts that others or their predecessors did the same thing. When did two wrongs, start to make a right? Can the justification for making a senseless decision, be that your predecessor also did it?
Anyway, Senator Abdullahi then proceeded to conclude that, Nigerians don’t appreciate or value Legislators in Nigeria, and that’s why we are complaining about the N37 billion proposed renovation expenditure! (like Senator Dayo Adeyeye, a fellow egocentrist, asked how ‘someone like him’ is expected to drive a used vehicle that was used by his predecessor-in-office, as if Tony Blair, David Cameron, Theresa May and now, Boris Johnson - four British Prime Ministers, haven’t all made use of the same car, even though the British Government can afford to buy each of them a fleet of new cars). That is one of the most conceited, bumptious, puerile, cretinous, doltish and meaningless statements, that I have heard recently. Pray tell, Senator Abdullahi, what is so special about Nigerian Legislators, that makes them better than the average Nigerian, or that entitles them to squander Nigeria’s money in such a precipitous and reckless manner on nonsense, while the majority of their constituents live in poverty and lack, and die in penury? Did anybody force them to offer themselves up for election?
It is obvious that, those who are appointed to, or are elected to political offices for altruistic reasons, that is, to add value to the lives of their people or constituents, and make a positive difference to policy and society, are extremely few and far between; they are even rarer to find, here in Nigeria. Our government officials, both elected and appointed, see Nigeria simply as their ‘gravy train’, and nothing more.