…recurrent expenditure accounts for 83%
The Federal Government’s spending in 2023 exceeded its revenue by N3.4 trillion, according to a new report by the Budget Office of the Federation.
According to the newly published 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), the federal government spent N8.5 trillion in the first six months of 2023 while its revenue amounted to N5.1 trillion.
Further findings showed recurrent expenditure accounts of N7.1 trillion account for 83 percent of total federal government spending of N8.5 trillion in the first six months of 2023.
“Only about N857.08 billion (25% of the pro-rata budget) has been released for MDAs’ capital expenditure as of July 2023,” the government’s official document said.
Experts have continued to berate federal lawmakers for failing to demonstrate sacrificial representation at a time when average Nigerians are barely able to cope with the challenge of everyday existence.
They argue that the pledge of a paradigm shift in the way of doing things is already defeated by the purchase of vehicles which cost is enough to set up thriving industries to cater to the mass unemployment in the land.
“All of this speaks to the gross insensitivity of the Nigerian political class and the growing level of impunity we have in the country,” said Oluseun Onigbinde, who founded Nigerian fiscal transparency group BudgIT told AP.
Nigeria’s lawmakers on November 2nd, 2023 approved President Bola Tinubu’s government’s first supplemental budget, which includes huge allocations for SUVs and houses for the president, his wife and other public officials, sparking anger and criticism from citizens in one of the world’s poorest countries.
“What I find most confounding is this; our government, more particularly those who run it, both in the executive and legislative branches, doesn’t understand the scales and dimensions of the economic crisis our country faces. For me, it is the unrealistic grasp of the scales and dimensions of the crisis that are compounding the crisis,” Charles Akinbobola, an analyst at Lagos-based Sofidam Capital said.
In the budget presented to lawmakers to supplement the country’s expenditures for 2023, the government had allocated about N1.5 billion for the presidential air fleet, vehicles and for the renovation of residential quarters for the office of the president, the vice-president and the president’s wife — even though her office is not recognized by the country’s constitution.
Before the budget was approved, and facing increasing criticism, lawmakers eliminated N5.05 billion earlier budgeted for a “presidential yacht” and moved it to “student loans.”
The allocations reminded many Nigerians of the economic inequality in a country where politicians earn huge salaries while essential workers like doctors and academics often go on strike to protest meagre wages.
“Such steep expenditure on cars in a country where surging public debt is eating up much of the government’s dwindling revenues shows its lack of priorities and raises questions about the lack of scrutiny in the government’s budget process and spending,” said Akinbobola.
Emeka Nwani, a trader working at the popular Oshodi market in Nigeria’s commercial capital, said he struggles to feed his family and has lost hope in the government to provide for their needs.
“Politicians are only there for their pockets,” Nwani said.
It is not the first time Nigerian officials have been accused of wasting public funds.
“That tradition must stop, beginning with the president making sacrifices for the nation, especially as vulnerable people in the country are struggling to make ends meet,” said Anita Njokede, who leads the Initiative for Community Development advocating for public accountability in Nigeria.
She added that Nigeria must strengthen anti-corruption measures and improve governance structures for the country to grow and for citizens to live a better life.
“We must also make public offices less attractive so people do not believe it is an avenue to get rich,” Njokede said.
While Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer, chronic corruption and government mismanagement have left the country heavily reliant on foreign loans and aid, while at least 60 percent of its citizens live in poverty.
Austerity measures introduced by the newly elected president have drastically cut incomes and caused more hardship for millions already struggling with record inflation.