There are three of groups of people who padded President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2016 Budget. The budget he christened ‘budget of change’. The first of group is mainly made up of few civil servants who are used to and live on being ‘budget rats’ and have been milking the nation for only God knows how long.
The second group is opposition politicians who are bent on seeing the APC government fail and also ridicule Buhari’s honest attempt to bring something new to Nigerians. The third group is the most dangerous- they are insiders, they are APC members who want to use the passage of the budget as a ‘political commodity’ and a bargaining tool to achieve some political and personal goals.
President Buhari said that he has never heard the word ‘budget padding’ until now. Most Nigerians, likewise have never. And this is because the perpetrators of the act had been milking the nation via that way and succeeding. In fact, the main reason this dastardly act came to the open is because the third group who wanted to exploit the passage of the budget as a bargaining tool, have become very desperate and was looking for an easy way to achieve their goals.
Since the President is hearing budgeting padding for the first time, he should employ his presidential powers to deal with the ‘paddlers’. For the civil servant, it will be very easy to deal with them; those found to have put a single ‘foreign’ digit in the budget should face the appropriate punishment as stipulated in the civil service rules. For the opposition who wants to prove to Nigerians at all cost that APC’s advocated change is not feasible, the president should not give them any chance to have their way- thus, the provisions in the budget should be implemented to the last word. For the insiders- APC members, dealing with them is the simplest. The President should maintain his stand on non interference in matters such as party and court cases neither should he give in to attempts to get something from the executive in return for parliamentary approval of executive proposals. He should also maintain his well-cherished stand of operating a government based of system thinking.
All said and done, the arduous task before the president is to put in place a mechanism to avoid future occurrence and save the nation embarrassment.
What the Mr. President needs to do are: whenever a budget is compiled and have passed through the rigorous checks of the Ministry of Budget and Planning and the budget office, there should also be Presidential special aides/team whose role will be to scrutinize the entire provisions of the budget for the president. Such team can also be doing same on other documents for the president. Secondly, before the president presents the budget to the National Assembly, he should make the national document accessible to all Nigerians- if anything new is inserted, the president and Nigerians will easily know.
Above all, Nigerians expect Mr. President to ensure paddlers of his first budget-the budget of change, should not go unpunished.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08036070980.