By Obioma C. Appolos
Aimed at ensuring that every Nigerian benefit from the nation’s budget directly or indirectly, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has revealed plans to partner Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to interrogate the implementation of the national budget by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), with a view to identify and address leakages and corruption in the system.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who made this known during a roundtable on the 2020 budget organised by Congress for its affiliate unions and its civil society allies on Wednesday in Abuja, said scarce resources ought to be managed in such a way that the common man on the streets would benefit.
Wabba who disclosed that 60 agencies including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were not captured in the national budget, said there were high chances of duplication of efforts or the possibility that nothing was happening ing in some of the agencies.
According to him, judicious use of monies budgeted annually would not only create employment for the teeming population of unemployed Nigerians, but it would reduce poverty and enhance socioeconomic development driven by establishment and maintenance of physical, critical infrastructures across the length and breadth of the country.
In his words: “The issue of budget is so important in Nigeria although it is also controversial because whereas we have always looked at the national budget, but while I was preparing and looking at the context of discussing budget in Nigeria I realized also there are about 60 agencies that their budget alone is more than 60 per cent of our national budget.
“When I was trying to look at my document this morning, I saw that the budget of CBN alone for this year is about N2 trillion and many other agencies are not captured in the national budget and when you put their budget all together it is about 60 per cent of the national budget. Therefore, most a times, our attention is not being focused on these budgets and the money is so humongous.
“Closely related with the issue of the budget, is also the issue of accountability and transparency because most of these budgets are being implemented by ministries, departments and agencies. In most cases they are not accountable, and that have been pointed out clearly.”
Wabba who raised concerns that the critical issues raised by office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the budget, said the NLC would partner with the Auditor General’s office to ensure accountability and transparency by MDAs in the implementation of the budget
“In the present day Nigeria, office of the Auditor General of the Federation have been reduced to mere NGO because his report is not taken seriously but he has raised fundamental issues about budget implementation, about leakages, about corruption still in the body of our ministries, departments and agencies.
“Therefore, it is high time if you want to move forward and make sure that even the scarce resources that are available are budgeted year in year out, let us see how they can be able to make impact.
“The fact is that impact is not being made; the budget system is like ritual, every year we come we make the ritual and it goes, at the end of the day when you look at the performance of the budget, or what we have been able to achieve through the budget, I think we have not been doing postmortem of what have we been able to achieve actually.
“For instance, the year ending 2019, what is the performance of the budget, where are those projects located, can we actually see the projects or the money have been carted away.
“These are issues that we need to address, that is why the office of the Auditor General of the Federation has come out clearly to say that many agencies are not even audited and where he audits them the report is not respected.
“We call on government very strongly because we are going to partner with the office of the Auditor general of the Federation to raise issues about what he has been able to bring out.
“Part of fighting corruption is to ensure that the scarce resources is managed in such a way that citizens are able to benefit. It will address the issue of inequality, it can address the issue of poverty, it can address the issue of unemployment but importantly, it can fix some of our critical infrastructure.
“Today you see the standards of our roads, you see the budget what was provided is build a standard road, but when the road is completed, give it three years, you will find out that the road is almost gone. That is why when you compare the road that is being built now and the roads with were built in the 60s and 80s those roads are still standing.
“These are a lot of contradictions and these are things that we intend to interrogate. We will come out with clear issues that we will interrogate,” he added.