The Bill and Budget of Renewed Hopes: How hopeful are Nigerians in the year 2024?

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By Olarewaju Oyedeji (PhD, FCA)

At least for the very first time in the last eight years, I heard a clear voice of my president while addressing the nation’s representatives on the commonwealth of our dear nation.

I do not need an oracle to convince me that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (PBAT) understands these economic concepts. Despite the standing laptop strategically placed before him, the PBAT convinced his listening audience that he understood the games.

I am worried about asking myself if the power to deliver Renewed Hopes is in the eloquence of Mr. President or in the real implementation of the substances in the budget of year 2024.

I have taken my time to study the whole documents of the budget.

I was inquisitive to see where the hopes in the budget are hiding and the key performance indicators (KPI) to renew the hopes for the betterment of Nigerians.

The President hinged his budget proposal on key objectives of:
Job-rich economic growth, macro- economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, poverty reduction, and greater access to social security.

As presented by the president, the total budget estimate is N27.5tn, out of which Defence and Security, Education, and Infrastructure top the scale of preference of this current administration.

The budget estimates equally earmarked N6.48tn, which is 96% of the N6.75tn for personnel and pension, an increase of N576.16bn over the current year 2023 budget provisions.

The federal government is equally expecting huge revenues of at least N10.4tn from tax, dividends, and other statutory sources to finance the budget.

The x-ray and further analysis of the whole budget show clearly that education, health, and infrastructure get N2.18tn, N1.33tn, and N1.32tn, respectively. Social Development and Poverty reduction programme is expected to gulp N534n. All these sectors are tagged critical sector allocation. Debt service takes N18.25bn, and capital expenditure takes N8.7tn.

The figure of N9.18tn as budget deficit is expected to be financed by new borrowing and other privatisation processes. Non-debt recurrent expenditure also takes N10.26tn.

The budget also demonstrated the template to which the oil production is expected to swing by benchmarking oil price at $77.96 per barrel while the exchange rate is pencilled down at 750/$ with 1.78mbpd oil production.

As a matter of economic reality, the global economic challenges would no doubt impact seriously on the year 2024 annual budget as the global environment is presently characterised by slowing global growth, constant uncontrollable inflation pressures, prompting monetary tightening across the world.

There is no doubt that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, which has impacted negatively on the flow of capital, particularly on the prices of food and energy in the emerging markets economy, would affect the successful implementation of the proposed budget.

Earmarking of a huge amount of over N500b on social development and poverty reduction in the budget is highly commendable. However, for the president’s objectives to be achieved, there must be closing monitoring of the budget implementation in this regard. It should be beyond paper or academic exercise.

The presidency needs to engage professionals who would develop alternative methods of channelling resources to the most vulnerable Nigerians.
The politicians must stay away from the exercise. Otherwise, poverty alleviation may result in poverty aggravation.

It is high time we changed our direction, methods, and ways of doing things in order to produce a new result, which I believe is the focus of the year 2024 annual budget.

Our budget handlers and civil servants, including the professionals, need new orientation parked with national rebirth to assist the president in achieving his Renewed Hopes agenda for the masses.

This budget is a litmus test for the administration of Mr. President under the All Progressive Party (APC).
Nigerians are tired of the’Promise and Fail Agenda of frivolity’. One thing is to have good plans, but it is another thing to implement the plans as planned.

The presidency should think of establishing an agency of government apart from budget office in the presidency who would be saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and controlling of the national budget.
I mean, the budget office needs to be empowered constitutionally. Until this is done, politicians would continue to dictate the padding by messing up the due diligence of budget implementation.

Nigerians have lost hopes in our politicians as the whole scenario is becoming garbage in, garbage out in almost every year in the way our national budget is being implemented.

The only thing that would renew Nigerians’ hopes is for our president to ensure that Nigerians’ legitimate income take them home in the years to come. By this, Nigerians shall be hopeful in the year 2024.

Olarewaju Oyedeji(Ph.D. FCA) writes from Lagos.
He is a member of the ICAN Public Policy and Advocacy Committee presidential year 2023/2024

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