By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
Social Action Nigeria, has charged the President, Muhammadu Buhari to take effective steps to demonstrate leadership by ending the culture of Budget impunity in Nigeria.
It stated that ‘budget padding’, whatever that means and in whatever form was an illegality which has sadly become institutionalized in the nation’s budgeting through the actions of some corrupt or self-serving public officials.
The Organization stated this in a reaction to the President’s nation-wide address at the signing of the year’s federal budget during which he alluded to fundamental distortions by the National Assembly to the 2018 budget which he said would have significant bearing in delivery and outcome of governance and economic policies and programmes for the year.
The Head, National Advocacy Centre, Social Action, Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor pointed out that “budget impunity is one fundamental vice that has greatly compromised development in the Country. Right from budget proposals stage, largely by the executive arm of government, to the consideration stage by the legislature, the budget is usually rife with dubious allocations and appropriation that all see to it that budgets no longer make any meaningful positive impact on the lives of the Citizens”.
According to her, it was indeed worrisome that the President, who ran on an Anti-corruption paradigm and had expressed clear knowledge of the problem and willingness to tackle same, would in the face of such infraction, only come out to merely raise lamentations without making any known effort to deal with the problem and dismantle this vicious cycle and culture beyond alluding to an intention to do another (supplementary) budget.
Social Action noted that this recourse to a supplementary budget is far from being a desirable solution to the problem as the so-called supplementary budget would still go to the same set of people enmeshed in these illegalities and invariably end up the same way of the former.
She noted that, “These ‘paddings’ as against the false and mis-leading claims of the perpetrators, (National Assembly members), of being in the interest of the people, are rather purely parochial and self-serving.
“They are merely meant to deceive people at localities and enable the promoters score cheap political gains at the interest of genuine collective national development. When the chips are down, majority of these either do not see the light of the day or end up with only jamboree ceremony of foundation laying as they are roundly abandoned across board. A trip to regions and communities around the country will prove this case in point”.
Bellonwu-Okafor stressed that it is pertinent that the President gets his acts together as a leader and constructively engage all involved in the budget process to see governance as a collective responsibility, sanitize the process and institute the culture and practice of best practices and due process in budget-making and implementation in Nigeria.
This is the only way the nation and its citizens can begin to meaningfully consolidate on the gains of democracy economically and otherwise.