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Nigeria’s 2024 budget: A betrayal of Service Compact Agreement

On November 29, 2023, Nigeria’s president presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly, with a total expenditure of N27.5…

On November 29, 2023, Nigeria’s president presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly, with a total expenditure of N27.5 trillion which was later hiked to N28.7 trillion by the National Assembly. The president claimed that the budget, themed “Budget of Renewed Hope”, seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security.

However, a closer look at the budget reflects greed by those who penned it and those who signed off and reveals a picture of hopelessness and a betrayal of the Nigerian people.

Let’s look at the budget in relation to what the Presidency and National Assembly carted away and what the rest of the 240 million Nigerians are left with to share and what’s left to secure Nigeria.

One pertinent question; what was the budget performance for capital projects in 2023?  Less than 38 per cent.

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One of the most glaring problems with the 2024 budget is the humongous allocation for the National Assembly, which amounts to N344.85 billion. This represents an increase of 74.23 per cent from the N197.9 billion proposed by the president, and the highest-ever budgetary allocation to the legislature.

The National Assembly, with 469 members and a projected 4,000 other support staff, has failed to justify this outrageous increase which comes at the expense of other critical sectors that are in dire need of funding. For instance, the budget of N50 billion allocated for the ‘’not-fit-for-purpose’ students’ loan, an unfair, ineffective, and detrimental scheme to the welfare of Nigerian students of about seven million as at 2023 using a 2018/2019 projected yearly 1.8 million enrolment figures into tertiary institutions and the expectation from such students who are the future leaders of the country vis-à-vis the output that will be generated from the lacklustre 10th National Assembly.

Likewise, the amount allocated to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, which is a paltry sum of N131 billion, was reduced from N201 billion and also that of the Ministry of Police Affairs at N869 billion from a proposed figure of N938 billion, definitely these funds are a ‘drip in the ocean’ and inadequate for the challenges they face.

Also look at the budgets for health at  N1.33 trillion, education at N2.18 trillion, and agriculture at N12 billion, which are essential for the citizens’ well-being and development, that are only 5%, 7.9%, and 0.04% respectively of the total budget. Their percentages fall  far below the international standards and commitments that Nigeria has signed up to, such as the 2001 Abuja Declaration that requires 15 per cent of the budget to be allocated to health, and the 2003 Maputo Declaration that requires 10 per cent of the budget to be allocated to agriculture,

This is a skewed and unfair distribution of resources. The parliament should protect and serve the people’s interests, not enrich itself at their expense.

Similarly, scrutiny must be applied to the budget earmarked for the Presidency. The allocation reflects a lack of commitment to steering the nation through the storm of socio-economic challenges but a manifestation of a ‘Presidency cocooned in luxury’ while the masses face the harsh realities of everyday life.

As the ink dries on the signed 2024 budget of N28 trillion, it has dawned on Nigerians that the country is teetering on the edge of a fiscal abyss as certain sectors are left gasping for resources, in stark contrast to the apparent opulence enjoyed by those ‘straddling the corridors of power’.

This monumental financial blueprint, while ostensibly meant to steer the nation towards prosperity, raises concerns regarding its implications, and the harsh predicaments it imposes on the lives of everyday Nigerians.

Some examples of the major allocations in the budget of the Presidency include N1.2 billion for the purchase of vehicles, N1.1 billion for the maintenance of the presidential fleet, N1 billion for the construction of a new presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and N500 million for the renovation of the State House Clinic, which became operational in 2023 and not meant for public use, was said to be a world-class facility. Will there then be justification for the number one to visit France for medical checks?

Take a look at the supplementary budget signed about two months back which also has the purchase of vehicles for the presidency at N6.9 billion and N1.5 billion allocated for vehicles for the office of the First Lady which constitutionally does not have an inkling of a provision in the constitution. Is the presidency a transport authority or are the vehicles CNG or electric? 

Let’s dive deeper; the supplementary budget also shows in there, renovation of residential quarters for Mr President at N4 billion, renovation of Aguda House at N2.5 billion, renovation of Dodan Barracks – the official residence of Mr President at N4 billion, renovation of the official quarters of Vice President in Lagos at N3 billion and all with borrowed money. Isn’t this fantastically senseless and silly?

The 2024 budget is a budget of renewed despair and frustration for the Nigerian people. The budget reflects the lack of patriotism, foresight, and accountability on the part of those who swore to defend the constitution and portrays a ‘prioritization of interests of a few over the needs and aspirations of the whole’.

It is incumbent upon the leadership to engage themselves in a collective introspection, fostering a sense of responsibility, patriotism and a shared vision for a brighter future for Nigerians.

Alhaji Rabiu wrote from Kaduna

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