Ok, we are back here again. The blame game between the Executive and the Legislature over the non-passage of the appropriation bill otherwise called the 2018 budget, has commenced.
It’s March already and Nigeria isn’t running on the 2018 budget just yet. So, why is there a delay?
Here’s a beginners guide to why we still don’t have the 2018 budget to work with….
1. On November 7, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari laid the 2018 budget proposals before the National Assembly (NASS).
2. It’s democratic practice for the Executive to table budget proposals before the Legislature for consideration because the Legislature is constitutionally empowered to appropriate monies to wherever.
3. The 2018 budget was submitted late last year because the Buhari administration wanted to avoid a scenario where we start implementing the annual budget mid-year.
4. According to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,“If you recall when I was Acting President, I signed the 2017 budget and, at that time, I made the announcement with the full consensus of the National Assembly that, from 2018, we are going to have a budget that is going to apply in January and end in December the normal financial year.
“We agreed that we will submit our proposal in good time, and we did that first week of November. The president did so. We fulfilled that part of the agreement”.
Traveling the world
5. However, the lawmakers are now blaming the Executive for the non-passage of the 2018 budget.
According to the lawmakers, Buhari’s ministers who were invited to come defend their budgets, didn’t honour those invitations. Instead, most of them have been travelling the world, lawmakers say.
6. This is how Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sen Sonny Ogbuoji, explained the delay with the 2018 budget:
7. “Since January, the Appropriations Committee’s doors have been opened to receiving reports from the sub-committees but most of the sub-committees have a huge challenge with the MDAs (Ministries, Department, Agencies) because majority of the MDAs are not coming forward to interface with them.
“Some of the ministers will tell you that they are going outside the country and because of that the MDAs are not fully ready. So, we don’t have the reports yet.
“We believe that it is when the MDAs come forward that our colleagues will be able to finish with their work. Some of the committees are unable to do their work. When they (committees) screen what they (MDAs’) have brought, they will ask them to go back and work on the budgets and come back.
But they don’t come back, and that is delaying the work on majority of the MDAs. That is why up till today, we don't have completed report. We believe that it is when the MDAs come forward that our colleagues will be able to finish with their work.
“Some of the committees are unable to do their work. When they (committees) screen what they (MDAs’) have brought, they will ask them to go back and work on the budgets and come back. But they don’t come back, and that is delaying the work on majority of the MDAs. That is why up till today, we don’t have completed report”.
8. However, the Executive is refusing to take the blame for the non-passage of the 2018 budget.
Osinbajo says: “ There is very little we can do to control that. That's the system that we have. We ensured that we released our budget on time. I want to believe that the Executive has done its part and we wait on the National Assembly”.
9. Ben Akabueze, who is the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation says it isn’t true that MDAs are delaying passage of the 2018 budget.
10. “Given the seriousness the presidency attaches to getting the 2018 budget passed so it could earnestly focus on achieving the goals set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-20 (ERGP), it had directed heads of ministries and extra-ministerial agencies to attend to any requests for meetings/information by the National Assembly (NASS) with dispatch,”Akabueze says.
“To the best of our knowledge, this directive has been complied with”, Akabueze added.
So, at this point, do you understand why the 2018 budget hasn’t been passed?