2017 Budget and other things that still matter

by | June 11, 2017 12:54 am

Besides the 2017 Budget, this week I will like to dwell on some issues. In fact, a particular issue that has bothered me for some time now. Perhaps, the answers I seek is in plain sight.

So it would seem the budget drama is almost over as the Executive and the Legislature are said to have found a middle ground. All the while, some people believed another showdown, like that of last year when President Muhammadu Buhari returned the spending plan to lawmakers, was imminent. Recall?
President Buhari refused to sign the 2016 budget and returned the document to the National Assembly. Aso Rock officials at the time said the spending plan had been mutilated or simply put, padded, hence the president refused to sign it. This is besides all the drama that went down. Remember that too? The missing episode almost repeated itself this year.
The question is why do we have the same circle going on all over again? I can imagine that the Budget Office started out the planning of the 2017 Budget early enough. Yet half of the year is gone and it is yet to be passed. The 2017 spending plan had been christened by President Buhari as the
Budget of Recovery and Growth, how long do we have to wait for the christened child to mature?
Last year, Nigerians as patient as they continue to be excused the government on grounds that they probably were still learning the ropes and what is the excuse this year? Whose fault is it anyway?
So a few weeks back, I wrote that Ministers were disgruntled that their budgets had been mutilated. Some said they had injections they didn’t need in the first place, according to reports over 400 strange projects had been included in the budget .
As it stands all that will go under the bridge as one of those things, as unconfirmed reports said the agreement between the two arms of government is that the lawmakers would not insist on the full implementation of the strange projects among other things. That will suffice for now but subsequently?
I had sought the advice of an analyst to understand at what point to say the budget has been mutilated by the National Assembly seeing it is their constitutional right to make amendments to the estimates submitted and this is what he had to say.
“So the claims that the NASS is distorting their budget is rubbish, the budget is not their own (executives) neither is it the NASS, it is the budget of the government of Nigeria and both of them are arms of the government. So they better sit down and talk to themselves.
“What happened is that at the preparation stage the executives don’t talk to them, they simply ignore them and finish their thing and at the end of the day they (the legislature) says finish your own we are waiting for you”.
Whatever the case is now, I am glad it is almost over and I am hoping that the circle of having a budget way into the half of the year is broken in the next circle.
A lot of people have asked me why the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari never travels with her husband and why even when she does, it is a short or simply put hurried visit. I have been asking a lot of questions along that line too maybe it will help me understand better.
How is it my business, does it put food on my table, does it reduce the price of garri or rice in the market, or will it heal the economy? I doubt that. I just feel I the need to touch on it so that the questions will reduce.
Last year, President Buhari traveled to the U.K. and stayed for 49 days. Mrs. Buhari was in Nigeria the whole time and visited briefly before heading to Mecca for the pilgrimage. Her office had transmitted a photograph of her and her husband in London, all smiles and the next was a press statement stating that she was heading to Mecca to perform the lesser hajj. After the Saudi Arabia trip she returned straight to Nigeria while her husband remained in London for about a month after that.
Again, last month when the President announced that he will be returning to London, I thought his wife Mrs. Buhari would naturally be traveling with him, how wrong. Funny that most members of the family, Mamman Daura a member of the kitchen cabinet and close aides were said to have made it to London but his wife stayed back. Any fault of hers? I cannot exactly say.
I tried to field out why this was happening and popular opinion in Aso Rock seems to be that the cabal is keeping her away. From her husband? I remember that last year, Mrs. Buhari made a public outcry that a cabal had taken over her husband’s government. According to her a particular cabal had taken over her husband’s government and seemed to be calling the shots especially in the area of appointments. She had lamented that those who worked tirelessly during the campaign were being sidelined in the appointments. In fact she had said she may not back her husband if he tried to contest in 2019, except he carried out a cabinet shake. So you remember the response that came from the President who at the time was in Germany? A response that elicited anger from feminists and laughter from most Nigerians.
“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room. So I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition because in the end I have succeeded.
“It’s not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government,” the Associated Press quoted the president as saying at the time.
Well, I have been expecting that Mrs. Buhari would make another public outcry saying they have taken her husband from her or maybe I am just wrong.
I just expect that when a spouse is sick, the closest person at that point should be the other half. I cannot imagine that my husband is sick and I am not by his bed taking care of him but busy carrying out projects like it is business as usual? I am sorry to say that there are a lot of things wrong with that picture.
Since the President left Mrs. Buhari kept busy. She has executed more projects under her Future Assured program than I have heard in all two years.
Explaining her weeklong stay in London, sources around Mrs. Buhari have confirmed that it is not her wish to stay in Nigeria while her husband is battling with his health in London but that the “cabal” does not want her there.
Please where does the power of this cabal stop? Again, what if it is not the cabal? I am just asking.


Elizabeth Archibong

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