ONE of the biggest on going frauds in Nigeria is the budget – federal, state, and local governments. Millions of Nigerians pine away over late passage of the budget, but with the budget neither speed nor lack of it profits the larger public.
The budget is made in a way that only the recurrent expenditure – salaries, purchase of office wares, cars and furniture is fully implemented. AAmazingly, capital expenditure, which involves building infrastructure, which should benefit the public is less than 30 per cent of the budget, and annually, its implementation is under 30 per cent.
Implementation of the capital component of the federal budget has been low. There were no official concerns about the unspent part of budgets until 2008, when the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, ordered that over N400 billion of unspent funds be returned to the treasury.
The government celebrated the refund as an indication of financial prudence, but the unspent money was mostly from capital votes, the part of the budget that impacted the lives of ordinary people. Yet the move was better than what happened in the past, when civil servant spent the last quarter of the year in awarding frivolous contracts in order to exhaust the budget.
Budgets have acquired a language entirely theirs to conceal the duplicity of civil servants who have invented new ways, in connivance with the National Assembly to swindle the country. Their favourite item is computers, information technology, stationery and computer consumables. These items are repetitively listed and purchased annually. Computers are purchased annually with hefty provisions made for maintenance of equipment that is less than two years old. All these are under recurrent expenditure. How much of government operations is computerised?
In the 2009 budget, the Federal Civil Service Commission provided N6.3 million to purchase computer materials and supplies, N15.25 million for computers and IT equipment maintenance. By 2011, the Commission demanded N28 million for office stationery and computer consumables and N16.78 million for maintenance. The same items got N25.18 million and N21.06 million respectively in 2012. Another N14.18 million is proposed for stationery and computer consumables and N15.77 million for maintenance in the 2013 budget.
The 2009, 2011 and 2012 budgets of these Ministries – Youth and Social Development, Women Affairs, Defence, Finance, Information, Interior, Police Affairs, Aviation, Petroleum Resources, and Niger Delta Affairs – showed they spent about N1.9 billion on computers and N524.86 million to maintain them.
In the 2013 budget, only seven Ministries are proposing to spend N1.57 billion, on stationery, computer consumables; maintenance of office furniture; maintenance of office/IT equipment and other maintenance services.
These duplicities contribute to high cost of governance, but the National Assembly ignores them.