Nigeria and the annual ‘ritual’ of unprofitable budgeting

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BY OLAOGUN MICHAEL SUNKANMI

In all the economies of the world, the budget and budgeting systems are an integral part of the day-to-day management of (financial) activities in both public and private circles. While many individuals, organizations, and nations view the budget as an effective tool for achieving future goals (short, medium, and long term), in Nigeria this economic tool is seen as an annual ‘ritual’ and a wrapped funfair. and presented on the legislative altars to appease the “gods” who inhabit the chambers.

Presentation as an executive libation is perhaps intended for assessment, review, approval, and most likely stuffing – which is known as the usual tradition. Without mince words, the ritual has, and to a large extent, delayed our progress instead of advancing democratic progress and governance in our nation since the return of our so-called democracy in 1999.

For clarity, a budget can be defined as a proposal to estimate income and expenses over a period of time (short, medium or long). It can be done by individuals, families, organizations and the government. As part of my civic engagement in nation building, I have had the privilege of participating in budget advocacy / assessment at subnational and national levels. The exercise so far has given me a better understanding of the institutional problems and repeated failures of budgeting in Nigeria. There is no doubt that events at the subnational level are a replica of what can be achieved at the national level or vice versa.

After establishing the definition of the actual budget, it is equally important to define it based on my “observed” tendency of events to understand my position and concern. “These are the annual rituals performed to allow the government to spend / waste money for the next fiscal year.” With this I can be bold to say that it justifies the mindset of most bureaucrats and political actors (executive and legislative) on what the budget is, but with all due respect to those who found it appropriate to be different.

The preparation (founding) of a budget is far more crucial than its adoption and implementation. Tragically, however, the preparation lacks due diligence and procedure. Reflecting on part of the Holy Bible, which says in Proverbs 11: 3: “When the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do? The biblical passage does not glorify the actors involved in the annual ritual but emphasizes the importance of preparation. It will also not be wrong to say “we cannot give what we do not have”.

As I stood in rooms with senior officials and politicians at the state and national level during budget advocacy, I observed the following shortcomings in Nigeria’s budget system.

  1. Lack of entrepreneurship
  2. Little or no reference to data for budget justification (items and plans were based on faith and unscientific assumptions)
  3. Lack of political orientation
  4. Selfish interest of planners
  5. Duplication of tasks in MDAs and
  6. Lack of synergy between government institutions in achieving the common goods of citizens.

With the shortcomings mentioned above, one cannot blame the bureaucrats who continue to play “active” roles in the annual ritual preparation despite this concern.

Sadly, we cannot expect them to deliver beyond the capacity they possess, when the political will to strengthen their capacity to respond to the 21st century budget process is lacking. It is interesting to note that in order for Nigeria to make a significant change in the budgeting process, it is necessary to pay adequate attention to the strategic consolidation of our data management system in order to improve the correct projections that may be relevant. our social and economic challenges.

Second, there is an urgent need to build the capacity of government actors (bureaucrats and political actors) on budgeting systems beyond simple red tape.

Third, the active engagement of citizens in the budget process (problem identification, preparation, implementation and evaluation) is essential for the positive impact of the budget process and the actualization of fundamental social and economic development, which is the essence of democracy. Anything short of those mentioned above will perpetually keep us in the abstract and destiny, which cannot and, in fact, lead us to any meaningful and progressive path as a nation.

Youth advocate and public affairs analyst Olaogun Michael Sunkanmi can be contacted via [email protected]


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