TAMBUWAL’S VOTE OF THANKS AND HARD FACTS
Wednesday October 10th, 2012 was extra-ordinary in the political annals of Nigeria.
On that great day, President Goodluck Jonathan broke a record as the first elected President in over a decade to have presented a budget proposal of the coming Calender year within three clear months before the commencement of the actual implementation. Officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance should be commended for this uncommon feat.
October 10th 2012 would also be remembered by all right thinking analysts in Nigeria as one day when the leadership of the National Assembly put behind them the notorious political espirit de corp or the “family affair” tendency of the ruling People Democratic Party and spoke truth to power.
The Senate president David Mark was quoted to have told President Jonathan that the National Assembly members will thoroughly and comprehensively go through the proposed 2013 budget before passing it into law to become the Appropriation Act of 2013 for implementation by the executive Arms of government to meet public good.
The speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Aminu Waziri Tambuwal gave the vote of thanks in which he passed the message of most Nigerians to President Jonathan.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Public affairs to President Jonathan Dr. Doyin Okupe didn't take the home truth with equanimity. This is sad.
The speaker who is a well respected legal mind, pointed out to President Jonathan the urgent need to take some steps so as to confront the hydra-headed monster of corruption and economic crimes occasioned by fraudulent awards of contracts by the various Federal ministries and Agencies of government.
Tambuwal also indicted the Federal Agencies for failing to adhere strictly to the implementation of the current 2012 budget.
His words; “As I speak, interim field oversight reports from House Committees on the 2012 budget implementation are clearly unimpressive both in terms of releases as well as utilization and this is a great challenge to all of us. It is important to state at this point the clear provisions of Section 8 of the Appropriation Act to the effect that approved budgeted funds shall be released to MDAs “as at when due”. This is sadly observed more in breach”.
The speaker also disclosed thus;
“The Composition of the Public Procurement Council provided under the Public Procurement Act is very critical to budget implementation….”
In this regard, The Speaker is right because it is preposterous to note that all that the Executive Council of the Federation does weekly is to award bogus contracts that are never implemented. This is the reason for the near-total collapse of basic infrastructure in most parts of the country. The entire Federal road infrastructures in the South East have collapsed and flash floods and erosion have also taken over most communities in Nigeria including the home town of the President.
One other area touched upon by speaker Tambuwal is on the area of high deficit and the overwhelming financial crisis occasioned by domestic borrowing to finance this deficit in the 2012 budget.
“There must be transparency, accountability and probity in the management of our resources generally, given recent developments that indicate our exposure to unforeseen natural disasters. We certainly, for instance, cannot take the protection of our environment for granted”,
Tambuwal spoke most Nigerians' mind when he said:
“We must therefore, continue to work together to redeem this nation from the clutches of poverty and disease. The vaunted growth in the nation's GDP must be reflected in the lives of everyone, not just a few people privileged to hold public office or those enjoying unfair public patronage.”
But my charge to speaker Tambuwal and the Senate President is that the unprecedented high cost of running the National Assembly must be checked because he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
President Jonathan who titled his 2013 budget proposal as “fiscal consolidation with inclusive growth” had earlier claimed some successes recorded by government in the implementation of the 2012 budget.
The President said; “Over the past nine months, through a number of initiatives, we have created new jobs directly and supported many young entrepreneurs running SMEs to create jobs. Nigeria is looking to become more self-reliant again in food security and we are increasing local content in our manufacturing processes and the oil and gas sector”.
President Jonathan read his score card thus;
“As at the end of the second quarter, the economy recorded an impressive growth of 6.2% compared to 5.4% forecast for sub-Saharan Africa. It is gratifying to note that the non-oil sector remains the main driver of growth. There are also improvements in other macroeconomic indicators. Inflation has dropped from 12.9% in June 2012 to 11.7% in August 2012, and our goal is to reduce it further”
Where are all these economic miracles that President Jonathan talked about on October 10th 2012? From Sokoto in the far North to Yenogua, Bayelsa in the South, the common denominator affecting a greater majority of Nigerians is absolute poverty and insecurity.
Has the textile industry in the North not collapsed long ago and nothing concrete has been done to revive it? Has the economy of the South East not gone comatose because of absence of basic infrastructure and the needed credit facilities to drive the process of industrial growth?
Again, in the last two years, I have not come across any university graduate that has bagged employment whether in the public or private sectors. What we see are rampaging bunch of fake job rackets and syndicates who are daily defrauding young Nigerian graduates with fake promises to recruit them into some para-military agencies.
The political elite in Nigeria including the presidency, the National Assembly and importantly, the governors of the 36 States must stop the ongoing outright looting of public fund and re-channel these funds into rebuilding Nigeria's collapsed infrastructure so as to create the enabling environment for rapid industrialization and actual job creation.
Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, HUMAN Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria, [email protected]