In 9 Years, APC Govt Budgets N123.45TRN

Nigeria’s total fiscal budget for nine consecutive years under the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration grossed N123.45 trillion, a compilation of nine years fiscal budget by Sunday Telegraph showed. In all the nine years, the amount proposed by the executive arm for each budget, and forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and passage was in most cases, increased above the original threshold proposed by the president. The president in all instances, ultimately signed the upgraded National Assembly’s version. Under the APC administration, the January to December budget cycle initiated by the party has been religiously adhered to, thus making budget implementation’ tracking process, a less cumbersome procedure when compared to the budget timeline under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.

The immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari, assumed power on May 29, 2015, ending the 16 years of PDP’s administration. The preceding administration of PDP headed by former president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, signed N4.425 trillion budget . Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s maiden fiscal budget in 2016 totaled N6.06 trillion. The Buhari administration began earnest preparation for the 2016 budget in December 2015. He assented to the 2015 Appropriation Amendment Act passed by the National Assembly, extending the 2015 financial year till March 31, 2016; and presented a proposed budget of N6.08 trillion for the 2016 fiscal year to the National Assembly. The National Assembly passed the budget on March 23, 2016, reducing it to N6.06 trillion — but the President withheld his assent and returned the document on grounds that there were “grey areas” that needed corrections. He later signed on May 6, 2016, after the lawmakers had worked on the grey areas.

The 2016 budget was his first and the only time National Assembly reduced a budget proposal presented by Buhari. The following year’s budget, 2017 was N7. 44trillion. It would be recalled that Buhari presented a budget proposal of N7.298 trillion to the National Assembly on December 14, but the Senate which passed it on May 11, jacked it up by N143 billion. However, Buhari was unavailable to sign the 2017 budget. He was in a United Kingdom Hospital, where he was recuperating from illness. The then Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, signed the 2017 budget on behalf of Buhari. Majority of budgets under the APC administration sustained an increased threshold. In 2018 for instance, the approved budget was N9.2 trillion. It was N8.9 trillion in 2019, 2020 fiscal budget was ₦10.594 trillion; N13.6 trillion budgeted for 2021 fiscal year and the 2022 fiscal year was N17. 127 trillion; the sum of N21.83 trillion was budgeted for 2023 while total budget for 2024 is N28.7 trillion .

In 2020, while Buhari proposed a budget of N10.33 trillion, the National Assembly increased it to N10.59 trillion — adding N260 billion. The lawmakers also added N3 billion to the National Assembly Budget, increasing it from N125 billion to N128 billion. Buhari signed the budget as presented to him by the legislative chambers. How- ever, the former always made his mind known whenever the National Assembly altered the original estimate sent to members of the parliament. In 2021, the former president submitted a proposed budget of N13.08 trillion on October 8 2020, but the law- makers increased it by N505 billion to N13.58 trillion. While signing the 2023 Appropriation Bill of N17.126 trillion into law, the former president took a swipe at the National Assembly for effecting changes to the budget. Buhari was displeased with some changes as well as major additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects ‘without justification’.

The former president highlighted some of the worrisome changes in the budget to include an increase in projected Federal Government independent revenue by N400 billion, reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 bil- lion, and reduction of the provisions for the Non- Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively, all without any explanation. In addition, he expressed his reservations on the inclusion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote, which he said negated the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the Legislative arm of government.

The trend, upping budget threshold by the National Assembly is a continuous process. Under the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the 2024 fiscal budget is his maiden budget. On Friday, December 29, 2023, the Senate in- creased the 2024 budget by N1.2trillion, moving the budget from N27.5 trillion to N28.7 trillion. Nevertheless, President Tinubu signed the N28.7 trillion 2024 Appropriation Bill into law. He assented to the 2024 Appropriation Bill at a brief ceremony at the Presidential Villa in Abuja last Monday. Among those with the President while he signed the documents were the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tajudeen Abbas. The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, witnessed the signing ceremony amongst other top dignitaries of government.

In terms of budget implementation, it varies. According to Budget IT, a non – governmental organization tracking budget implementation, it noted that, a total of N4.39 trillion was spent in 2016 despite the Federal Government’s budgeting of N6.06trillion for the fiscal year — due to the late passage of the budget. “The capital expenditure component of the spending in 2016 was only N173 billion of the projected N1.58trillion. However, some of the capital expenses were carried into the new fiscal year 2017 in line with the clause attached to the Appropriation Act”. “With revenue falling behind target and expenditures significantly flat, the deficit for the year stands at N2.19trillion which is very close to the N2.2trillion projected for the entire fiscal year -meaning deficit numbers may be substantially wider if capital spending of 2017 is considered”, it said.

The administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari claimed to implement 100 percent of capital budgets (capital releases) to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), in 2020 and 2021. Speaking during the unveiling of Nigeria’s scorecard on the 2021 Open Budget Survey, Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, said Nigeria posted its best performance in the open budget survey, improving by 24 points for transparency in the latest survey. “The total transparency score of 45 in the 2021 sur- vey is a significant leap from the 21 scored in the 2019 survey,” he said, noting that the score was the second highest improvement worldwide”.

By: Abdulwahab Isa

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