Thursday, 19 May 2016

AVOIDING UPCOMING CONTROVERSIAL BUDGETS

President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigerians finally heaved a great sigh of relief on Friday, May 6, 2016, when President Muhammadu Buhari gave his assent to the 2016 appropriation bill as passed by the National Assembly. With the budget now law, stakeholders are looking forward to its implementation to stimulate the economy and realise the objectives of the administration.

The assent which came more than forty days after it was first transmitted to the President has, for now, taken attention away from the grossly outrageous anomalies that bogged down the budget between the Executive and Legislative arms of government, which lasted for nearly six months.

We must learn our object lessons once and for all as we look forward to the next cycle of budget preparation and processing. We must learn from the pitfalls of this year and ensure we get it right from next year moving forward.

The APC Federal Government now has enough time to put its acts together, working in harmony with the two chambers of the National Assembly, to deliver good governance devoid of the friction, scandals, tensions and groping for direction, which characterised the past one year it assumed power.

The distortions we experienced in the process of preparing the 2016 budget stemmed mainly from the fact that the regime was new, and it did not have enough time to harness all its organs as a ruling party. To make matters worse, President Muhammadu Buhari was very slow in putting together his cabinet. He initially dwelt heavily on the bureaucrats, and by the time the ministers had been assembled in November 2015, there was little time for them to take charge and curb the excesses of the entrenched interests of civil servants.
Nigerians are willing to overlook this chaotic beginning, if only the situation will not be repeated in the next three years they gave President Buhari to implement his campaign promises.

Another area the APC Federal Government must resolve before we embrace the next budget cycle is the perennial power tussle between the Executive, which proposes the annual Appropriation Bill, and the Legislative arm, which approves it for assent by the President.

This problem has always reared its ugly head every year under successive administrations. After seventeen years of uninterrupted democracy, we should have been able to overcome this problem. The Executive must be allowed to draw out and implement the visions and missions of governance promised Nigerians. At the same time, the National Assembly must be allowed to perform its legislative, appropriation and oversight functions to ensure checks, balances and more accountable governance.

Undue power tussle between both arms always leads to avoidable waste of time and resources, and this must stop. (Vanguard)