2018 budget heavily padded, full of errors – Nigerian Senate

The Nigerian Senate has observed that the 2018 budget was “heavily padded, inconsistent, full of errors and inaccuracies.”

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who made this revelation at the plenary, yesterday, said, the executive arm must sit up, warning that disaster was lurking if the 2017 budget was not rolled over to 2018.

“Truly, it is very disheartening and disappointing because we know how much we have put into the budget process,” he said.

Senator Saraki noted the submissions of senators over their discoveries of poor budget implementation in 2017 and inconsistencies in the claims by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government during the budget defence sessions.

“By now, 2017 budget should have been implemented by up to between 40 and 60 per cent, but this has not been the case. This makes it very difficult for us, we cannot turn into magicians. I continue to appeal that you work within what you have and let us do our best to ensure that we have a budget that is in the interest of Nigerians.

“The executive on their part should sit up and not just make rhetoric, but get down to work. If 2017 budget items are not rolled over to 2018 that is a disaster. Let the executive show some seriousness towards the budget exercise.”

The outflow of outrage followed a point of order raised by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South, who queried the submissions made by the MDAs during the budget defence sessions.

According to Na’Allah, the pronouncements made by the President and his aides on the execution of the budget was not reflective in the submissions being made by heads of the MDAs.

“When we suspended plenary, it was with the idea that the committees will swing into action so we can have a tentative date to pass the budget. From what I have seen, we might run into troubled waters. If we have not appreciated what the problems are, it is important for Nigerians to come here and understand what the problem is.

“The template we are using will continue to create problems for us. It was created during the Military era. The template cannot work in our country today. From reports we have had, it is obvious that we have problems. We need to know what the problems are. If we have a 2017 budget that has not been executed today and we are considering the 2018 budget, it means there is a problem.”

Contributing, to the motion, Senator Barnabas Gemade, APC, Benue North East suggested that the consideration of the 2018 budget be suspended and that the lifespan of the current 2017 budget be extended till end of March of 2018.

“What we have seen is far from the 40 per cent capital project implementation we were told. In many MDAs, budget performance is hovering between 12 to 15 percent.

“In early November, the borrowing plans were brought, and we approved it. They said they were going to release more funds. As of now, we cannot say if that is true.”

On his part, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West said the 2018 budget proposal was “garnished with deception.”

“Enough is enough. We must ensure that the 2017 budget is properly implemented. We must ensure that the budget is an elitist. What they have brought to us is a just a proposal. We need to give Nigerians a budget that will benefit Nigerians,” he said.

Upon the submissions, the President of the Senate, Senator Saraki summed up the contributions with an admonishment that the executive should get its acts together.