There is high expectation among Nigerians as President Muhammadu Buhari presents the 2020 Appropriation budget to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The ritual of annual budget presentation which is performed by the President enables the Parliament appropriate and approve allocations to the sectors of the economy as envisaged by the executive.
Interestingly, this is the first time in the previous military and now democratic era that the annual budget circle of the Nigeria Federation was being reverted to run from January to December financial year. That notion precipitated President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of the 2020 budget today (Tuesday).
The development, however, followed the resolution of the upper and lower legislative Chambers under its statutory powers to revert the nation’s financial regime to start running from January to December.
To make good their commitment, the Nigeria Senate on Thursday last week passed into law the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2020 – 2023 to the tune of N10.727 trillion passed into law. Constitutionally, the MTEF is the basis with which annual budget is prepared by the Executive. It, therefore, means that today’s presentation of 2020 budget is in consonance with the laid down procedures of how the nation’s financial structure is laid.
Meanwhile, what was not clear, but very important before a budget is prepared was the level of implementation of the N8.9 trillion annual budget which was passed into law by the 8th Senate in May, 2019. Today’s presentation of the 2020 budget by President Muhammadu is coming four months into the implementation of the 2019 budget. As laudable as it may be, the level of implementation of the previous year which is sacrosanct continues to agitate the minds of some political analysts as well as financial experts.
An Abuja based financial consultant, Dr. Josiah Idakwoji, speaking with DAILY POST on Tuesday expressed serious concern that, “There was no significant implementation of the 2019 budget despite its four months lifespan.” According to him, Parliamentarians ought to have insisted on the significant implementation of the budget through their oversight functions.
“As a matter of statutory responsibility, legislators play oversight role on the agencies of government which are a subdivision of the executive and what can they tell Nigerians? What is the percentage of implementation of 2019 budget before facing the 2020 budget Appropriation today? ”
Similarly, a PDP Senator who spoke with DAILY POST on condition of anonymity before he entered the chambers said:
“I know we are operating a cooperative agenda with the executive. Be that as it may, I am optimistic, they would be a closedoor session before President Buhari’s arrival in which salient points like what you are saying will be discussed. That’s all I can say.”
Moreso, how the heads of agencies of government would avail themselves to defend their MDAs and parastatals’ budget in marathon approach remains to be seen in view of the usual busy schedule of overseas travels.