Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Budget Padding intrigues in Constituency Projects Delivery



As it is, it seems we are in disobedience to everything that is supposed to function properly in our system. I say this because the level at which iron cast corrupt cases are flowing within our system can be mind boggling, and any attempt at ameliorating them, becomes a dagger dawn. My  huge  expectation of doing things differently  was cut  again towards the tail end of last year, when Nigeria executive arm brought budget proposal to the national Assembly, it came with high hope given that there is new government in place with this understanding that, different Approaches would follow differently in the way budget are proposed, appropriated, and processed in good time and implemented in order that it meet the aspirations of ordinary Nigerians.

 Under standard practice, the executive are supposed to implement every appropriated project that is found to have scaled through the national assembly where the legislators, on its part, ensure it is adequately appraised through its constitutional role of oversight function. Now, the first entry point is the issue surrounding the word ‘’appropriation’’ of budgets estimates. Experiences from the past has showed that, the executive brings budget estimate for approval, but legislators on its parts, usually describes it as ''mere proposal'' in  that  according to them’’, is what obtains in our constitution.

 That is where the critical area of concern is driving out from, which indeed leaves more opportunity of budget padding to those involved, when as results, it did not give clear cut understanding of where, how and when to appropriate, which to me,  not only robbing the palms of most members of the national assembly hand's with  black oil, it’also left it dropping with the obvious. I recall, when, president Buhari presented its budget estimates, he never envisaged that padding of this nature would come in the first place, the president, when he  granted audience with press in united kingdom, he  affirmed that ‘’in his entire life, he has never had  of the word ‘’padding’’ and promised to investigate the budget office’’. 

Indeed, this was what leads to the removal of director general of budget office to which the president had since replaced him with Dr Bright okogu. The contention has been its lacuna, with-which provide unwarranted opportunities of such, allowing those in place of authority to manipulate and arrogate to themselves what is meant to be national wealth, manipulate the system where padding estimate has becomes the norms,  discouraging  favorable budget  implementation that is meant to meet the yearnings of Nigerians, encouraging corruption in every spheres. The overnights function that is meant  for investigation, helping to unravel any budget  discrepancy in the process of its implementation  has  been turned to instrument of witch hunting  in the way it will serve personal interest where everybody have fair share of the cake, living out what is stipulated as function in the constitution. These week system  has since being manifested through policies, politics and the entire polity.

 ’ One Should rather not ignore the message of chief Obasanjo when he said we need people of integrity, and those that are willing to contribute to national development’’ I will rather add; it should be in every shares of our political leadership. ‘’Obasanjo said this on the hills of happening about budget padding, where he also advised  president Buhari to  be careful as well’’.

 Another area of concern is the effectiveness of appropriation that has become another instrument of approbating and reprobating powers to one organ of government, living behind others in its interpretation, estimates and developments of budget preparation that ‘’whatever  budget is brought  to the national assembly, its remains a proposal, and that it has the singular responsibility to cook and dish out whatever it prepared without recourse to any organ of government living out the principle of check and balance, ‘’helping one, leaving two others in the dark, left with the knife and yam at the same time.’’ When one organ calls executive budget  as 'estimate', a  mere proposal, and that it is within its powers to appropriates and that which it has seems to be an opportunity to ‘’pad’’, input whatever amount that serves its selfish interest through such laws that used the word ''appropriation'' under the branding of constituency allowance for project delivery, that one can hardly find in majority of those constituencies? The reason we see infighting and tussle for leadership position, throwing chairs at each other, further killing the image of this country? For the benefit of those that must know, there are other countries that practice the idea behind constituency project. For instance, in Kenya, its legislature has what is called constituency projects but its frame work has clearly define constitutional specifically on its estimates and in the way it must have legal ingredient in order that the executive arm should implement.

 Kenya in its bit of ensuring transparency, it has implementation agencies like the way the past government did by using MDG as implementing agencies even though with no legal ingredients but the administrational  modus in it seems ''transparent''. In the United States, it's also has what is called constituency projects but what obtains, is usually that, its congressmen would submits every project it intend to implement, and thereafter, be subjected to votes, places premium  more  on priority projects and implement eventually . For instance, the United States was said to have spent fifteen billion dollars on those projects after subjecting it to those scrutiny last year. Nigerian legislature has never dimmed it fit that it is important it must legislate on it, which, if done, it would certainly discourage padding given the frame word of all said. 

The clear definition and process of its counterparts has significantly show that due process are followed and there is a clear terms as to what is its function in terms of execution and implementation, those frame work also encourages congress representatives to allow its constituents to put forward projects placed with high priorities that is dire, pressing and calling for attention. To me, this are better approaches at carrying the constituents along which can best described as pedagogical and best practice approach to sustain relationship constituents should have with its lawmakers.

 The burden of constituency projects delivery shouldn’t have come through budget padding in the first place, if all said from other country’s framework is put in place, given it legitimate  legal ingredients and allow executive to implement ,aligning it  with the best form of frame work practice all over. Budget padding is part of impunity that has made  some super rich civil servants of  what many of them have become, it is the same budget padding that has assist many present, past government representatives  and if not taken care of, then  future intending members would also follow the trend and corruptly enrich themselves at the detriments of their constituents. Our politicians should leave above board and avoid damaging its image, in the way many observers had described them, this is the only way Nigeria and Nigerians can hit their chest and say truly dividend of democracy is felt in all constituencies and that which we can testify to, all over the country.

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