By Bilyamin Abdulmumin
Last week, during the FEC meeting, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, made a groundbreaking announcement by revealing the budget forecast for 2024. It sent shockwaves through the nation, and understandably so, as the projected budget of 26 trillion naira was unprecedented; it was a staggering 4 trillion compared to the previous year.
Nigerians have consistently expressed concerns about the ever-increasing budget forecasts year after year. Regrettably, this budget inflation trend has persisted. For instance, the budget started at 299 billion during the Obasanjo government in 1999 but ballooned to 2.3 trillion when he left office. Yar’adua handed over a 4.4 trillion budget to Jonathan, who returned the exact figure in 2015 (despite presenting a 4.9 trillion budget in three previous years). The budget increase went wild during President Muhammad Buhari’s tenure, reaching a staggering 21 trillion in 2023 when he left office.
Although I am not an expert on budget matters, it’s apparent that every budget must consider factors such as market dynamics, inflation, and the growth of the national population and its demographics.
Rather than fixating solely on the budget figures, we, as citizens, should focus on the prudent and effective utilisation of these budgets. If the Nigerian budget had been prepared and executed more efficiently, we might have already achieved the promised Eldorado.
For example, 43 years have passed since the Shagari and Gowon green revolution, 33 years since Vision 2000, and a decade since Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda. However, the majority of Nigerians still lack access to quality housing and healthcare, and we continue to struggle to feed ourselves. Similar ambitious visions have come and gone, including IBB’s structural adjustments, Abacha’s Vision 2010, Obasanjo’s Vision 2020, Yar’adua’s seven-point agenda, and PMB’s Vision 2050.
One crucial issue highlighted by BudgIT, a civic organisation monitoring the Nigerian budget, is the disconnect between our budget and national planning, hindering the realisation of the promised utopia. Our budget is not aligned with our national planning, and it seems that from the beginning, Nigeria has not been drawing the budget structure from national planning.
In the words of Oluseun Onigbinde, Global Director of BudgIT, “The Nigerian budget has delivered sub-optimal results because it has not been linked with national strategic plans written for the medium or short term. The current President has a public manifesto, and the Federal Government recently, at a significant cost, also delivered strategic plans that terminate in 2025 and 2050. It does not make sense if the national budget is not linked to these documents. The budget needs to stop just being a contract vending machine stuffed with varied interests but a thorough planning document.”
If the masses can redirect their attention to this issue rather than merely reacting to budget forecasts, expecting more effective and desirable results is plausible.
Interestingly, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, has pledged to address this issue and reached out to the public for understanding and engagement. This outreach occurred during an official visit by the House of Representatives Committee on Alternative Education. The minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the APC comprehensive plans, particularly Agenda 2050 and the 5-year development plan.
Dear Nigerians, it’s time to refocus our priorities and stop chasing after the shadows.