2022 Budget: V.I.P’s and P.I.V’s! - By: Eugene Enahoro | Dailytrust

2022 Budget: V.I.P’s and P.I.V’s!

FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari, presenting the 2022 Appropriation Bill before the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja yesterday Photo: Felix Onigbinde
FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari, presenting the 2022 Appropriation Bill before the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja yesterday Photo: Felix Onigbinde

President Buhari recently submitted the 2022 budget totaling N16.39 trillion. This is 12.5 per cent higher than budgeted in 2021. Once again it’s a “cut and paste” document, which entrenches privilege and dismisses the needs of ordinary Nigerians. Year after year, the Presidency somehow requires new computers, kitchen utensils, motor vehicles and amounts for “maintenance” of the Villa, which could build housing estates in better run nations. 

The 2022 budget proves that nothing has changed since 2015. It’s simply another example of political office holders taking all the social and economic benefits of society while the crumbs are left for the majority.

All major religions teach that no one should abuse privilege, abuse power, or abuse rights, alas in Nigeria elected and appointed political office holders habitually fail in this highest service anyone can give to mankind which is the use of privilege for the common good. They condemnably regard privilege as a right to feather their nests, care less about others and concern themselves with uplifting only their fortunes and those of their families and friends. Quite reprehensibly even as the vast majority of Nigerians live below the poverty line and struggle to eat one square meal a day, the 2022 budget allocated N457 million (over one million per day!) for meals of the President and Vice-President. In addition, the President budgeted N2.6 billion to run his office and a further N1.5 billion and N776 Million for international journeys and local travel respectively. Rather than reduce the amount of banqueting and gallivanting around in light of the nation’s dire economic straight, the amounts have increased!

As for the National Assembly, despite calls for transparency by the general public who owns the money, lawmakers continue to hide details of monies allocated to them (N134 billion in 2022). It’s been correctly surmised that the reason for ongoing massive corruption in Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) in spite of all legislative oversight functions, is that NASS has no moral right to accuse anyone of misapplication of funds or lack of transparency because they are the worst culprits siphoning their budgetary allocation by granting themselves opaque, unjustifiable humongous allowances.

Commenting on the budget, the finance minister said achieving its objectives requires “bold decisive actions” such as the planned removal of subsidies on fuel and electricity, which everyone knows will negatively impact the industry, commerce, ordinary citizens and the economy. She confirmed the entrenchment of privilege and suffering by announcing no “bold decisive” plans to remove discretionary duty waivers, preferential foreign exchange rates, or pleas bargained criminal billionaire status for treasury looters or the privileged few.

The late Afro-Beat legend, Fela Anikulakpo Kuti said that there are two types of citizens in Nigeria, V.I.P’s and P.I.V’s.  Nigerian VIP’s (Very Important Personalities) are basically politicians, top military brass, “Royal Fathers”, and anyone who has made enough money to be waited upon hand and foot. Their bloated egos are encouraged by the police who act as their servants ready to brutalise citizens or commit any illegality upon their orders. It’s been estimated that over 150,000 policemen are attached to VIP’ as orderlies carrying their handbags, umbrellas, or even wads of cash! Fela said that in Nigeria, VIP should stand for “Vagabonds in Power” while PIV means “Poor Innocent Victim”, which describes the fate of the majority of Nigerians in this mal-administered nation! 

It’s no secret that many political office holders are looters, thieves and convicted felons, not to mention political prostitutes and opportunists. Their main goal in politics is to loot the treasury with little or no concern for the plight of the people, so Fela’s reference to Vagabonds in Power is apt. However, some commentators say VIP political office holders who are pompous and arrogant and cannot see all the suffering and inhumanity in Nigeria are Visually Impaired Persons!

There is no disputing that the only way to restore the nation’s finances to a healthy situation is to reduce the high cost of governance. Overseas tours must be strictly limited and the president, as well as ministers, governors and legislators, must reduce their salaries and give up their sense of “entitlement” and luxurious lifestyles at the expense of a long-suffering population. Government money is supposed to be budgeted for the welfare of the citizenry not the self-granted benefits and privileges of political office holders. This routine abuse of privilege enshrined in the budget isn’t surprising because these days, religion and ethnicity are far more important to political appointment than capacity, competence, patriotism or integrity.

The one thing that can be said about the 2022 budget is that it hasn’t been designed to end the abomination of extreme wealth by political office holders in the midst of excruciating poverty experienced by the majority of citizens. Trying to defend the budget in a most haughty manner the minister remarked that government remains “mindful” of the need to provide safety nets to cushion the impact of the reform measures on the vulnerable segment of the population!

This is the second to the last budget to be presented by the Buhari administration. The next administration would do well to place PIV’s before VIP’s. The next budget should be about providing succour for those suffering in IDP camps, rather than funding “amnesty” for those who caused all the pain and suffering; creating employment; providing social amenities for those begging on the streets; providing government shelters for the destitute; and providing free medical care for those wounded by supposedly “stray” bullets, or in road accidents. It should be about ensuring cheap and constant electricity; taking proper care of the aged who don’t earn pensions etc. The 2022 budget shows that the political class isn’t prepared to govern compassionately. While they wallow in undeserved wealth, the list of those suffering through no fault of their own and for whom no provision has been made in the budget is indeed endless. Truly, Nigeria is a nation of VIP’s and PIV’s!   

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