Last Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) presented his Administration’s 2016 Budget proposal of well over Six Trillion Naira (N6tr) before the National Assembly (NASS), and the nation’s citizens. In Naira terms, the budgeted amount is much higher than last year’s but in dollar terms it is likely to be approximately the same, as the Naira continues to lose chunks of its value by the day – down almost thirty percent from its worth this time last year.
In today’s piece, we analyse the 2016 Budget from a poor man’s perspective by first quoting a snippet from PMB’s Budget Speech and then offering a comment and/or analysis from a Poor Man
PMB: “I know the state of our economy is a source of concern for many…By June 2014, oil prices averaged $112 per barrel. But as at today, the price is under $39 per barrel.”
PM: Mr. President, that’s the abracadabra we don’t understand in this country at all. They say there is oil glut on the world market, that there is too much oil available (even if crude). But despite producing oil here, what we have is scarcity, the opposite of glut. And then oil sells for next to nothing on the world market while we Nigerians buy the refined product so expensively, when we find it. No economist, or subsidy-enjoyer, has been able to explain this to us.
PMB: “On the economy, we injected new leadership at the helm of our revenue generating agencies including the FIRS, NNPC, NCC and Customs and implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA)…with the full implementation of the TSA we expect significant improvements in the collection and remittance of independent revenues…”
PM: Yes, kudos on TSA! We hear you have ‘intercepted’ more than two trillion Naira through it so far, and that but for TSA those monies would have since disappeared down that magic hole of MDA’s ‘contra-entry’. And Sir, that 1% Remita Commission grates so! Have they really returned the loot? Check closely for they are ‘wayo’ people, contra-enterers Made in Harvard! And Sir, pursue those billions from MTN Sir.
PMB: “We intervened to support States to navigate their fiscal challenges by restructuring their commercial bank loans and by providing facilities to enable them to pay salary arrears.”
PM: We congratulate the new governors who came into this unexpected ‘inheritance’ called ‘bailout’. But Sir, you have to look closely to ensure that the funds are being used for what you gave them for. You see, our State Assemblies are mere rubber stamps, as you very well know, so the governors can have any law passed to ensure ‘virement’ of these monies into other uses. Such as, for example, buying new cars which, by the way, your own NASS is already doing, do you know? So any governor that does otherwise with bailout should be bailed-in.
PMB: “We have demonstrated a strong will to fight corruption…We will pursue the recovery of everything that belongs to the people of Nigeria. No matter where it is hidden. No matter how long it will take.”
PM: Thank you Sir for this! The new guy you appointed at EFCC is really up and doing. In fact, his name Magu, if one were to say it twice, it would be tantamount to the whole fight altogether. But one thing you must do, Mr. President, is to reform our anti-corruption laws. For instance, death penalty would do well for any thievery above Five Million Naira. Spiritual or Temporal. And corruption is stealing and should be non-bailable, whatever the condition.
PMB: “We are determined to ensure that our resources are managed prudently and utilized solely for the public good…that resources are aligned with Government’s priorities and allocated efficiently.”
PM: Have you taken your Wardrobe Allowance yet, Sir? We notice that your black kufta is being repeated from Germany to Ghana. If you haven’t taken that allowance, we just want to tell you that NASS members have already collected theirs. We are sure you noticed that when you visited them Tuesday…And, by the way Sir, how many new cars has the Presidency bought yet? Well, just to let you know, NASS is spending billions of Naira to buy new cars. Just so that you know…
PMB: “As an emergency measure, to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, we also will partner with State and Local Governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders. These graduate teachers will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in our rural areas.”
PM: Brilliant wallahi! How much is the salary, Sir? And would there be a rural weighting allowance? They are already asking!
PMB: “Furthermore, through the office of the Vice President, we are working with various development partners to design an implementable and transparent conditional cash transfer program for the poorest and most vulnerable.”
PM: Ma sha Allah! It has arrived. This is what we have been waiting for. We hope the Vice President would go over to Brazil pronto and bring in the Bolsa Familia which is what this intervention aims to adopt. And for that planned N180 billion monthly expenditure to give 30 million primary pupils a litre of milk every morning, we suggest milking cows be tethered near each school. Kawai!
PM: We really don’t understand those terminologies Sir, but they do sound a bit like World Bank- and IMF-speak, the same you fought thirty years ago. But as we trust you so much so that we wholeheartedly trusted you with our votes, we believe you understand what you are saying. Carry on!
PMB: “The current fuel scarcity with long queues at petrol stations all over the country causing social dislocation is very unfortunate. Government profoundly apologizes to Nigerians for this prolonged hardship and misery. It is as a result of market speculators…”
PM: Awww! Mr. President, that’s nice. You just said sorry? OK, we now understand why there is no fuel. And we forgive. And forget. But then, Sir, when is it ending?
PMB: “…critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N433.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – N134.6 billion…”
PM: So Fashola is going with N433 billion! Kai! And Amaechi N202 billion! Wai! And the Defence budget, we hope it’s NOT going to the NSA’s Office. Oh! There is a new NSA in place!
PMB: “Indeed, the future looks bright…”
PM: Perhaps from the Villa, Sir. There are still blackouts, and pocket-outs (as many salaries are paid on the 40th of the month).
PMB: “I am aware of the problems many Nigerians currently have in accessing foreign exchange for their various purposes…We are carefully assessing our exchange rate regime keeping in mind our willingness to attract foreign investors but at the same time, managing and controlling inflation to level that will not harm the average Nigerians…”
PM: Mr. President, you must have read “Man arrested at airport with 870 ATM cards”. There is now an army of Nigerian Professional ATM Withdrawers in the UK, the US, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other places sleeping by the ATM machines to withdraw the daily allowed limits. Stop them today! Why wait for the New Year?
PMB: “I know many people will say ‘I have heard this before’…
PM: Now that you’ve said it, Mr. President, it is true we have heard it all before. But the others who said it were politicians and you, Mr. President, are a, ehm, ehm…
PMB: “We will not betray the trust reposed in us…We will welcome and be responsive to your feedback and criticisms…We are here to serve…”
PM: And we are here to vote, Mr. President! Carry on!