Well-meaning Nigerians are beginning to ask the Federal Government some pertinent questions – about its priorities in terms of spending and how the country will survive the looming economic crises ranging from rising debts, inflation, the fall of the Naira and other fiscal issues.
The perception is that the Federal Government has been borrowing for consumption, carrying out white elephant projects with inflated prices as against proper investments in human capital developments, education, health, and infrastructure.
One of those less impactful projects is the renovation of the National Assembly. On Thursday, the Federal Government was under scrutiny after it said that a whopping sum of N21 billion is needed to complete the ongoing rehabilitation.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), Mallam Musa Mohammad Bello said a total of N37 billion was in December 2019 appropriated for the rehabilitation work by lawmakers but later downwardly reviewed to N9.25 billion in the revised 2020 budget.
According to the Minister, the contract sum for the rehabilitation work is N30.23 billion out of which N 9.2 billion has been paid, and the remaining balance of N21.025 billion is to be paid to contractors handling the works.
The N37 billion renovation of the National Assembly complex approved by Muhammadu Buhari was a misplacement of priority and a daylight robbery of national wealth, especially, taking into consideration the huge number of Nigerians crying for a better life and other critical issues begging for financial attention.
Another ugly situation is the rising debt crisis. As of March 31, 2022, Nigeria owes N41.60trn or $100.07bn which represents the domestic and external debt stocks of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the thirty-six state governments, and the Federal Capital Territory.
In terms of inflation, Nigeria’s inflation rate reported a seventh consecutive monthly rise to 18.6 percent in June, representing a 0.9 percent point increase from the 17.71 percent it was in May 2022.
According to the report, rises were recorded in all classifications of individual consumption according to purpose (COICOP) divisions that generated the headline index.
“On a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate boosted to 1.82 percent in June 2022, this is 0.03 percent increased than the rate recorded in May 2022 (1.78 percent),” the report reads.
“The percentage change in the average blended CPI for the 12 months ending June 2022 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12 months period is 16.54 percent, showing a 0.62 percent increase compared to 15.93 percent reported in June 2021.”
More worrisome, according to reports the same Thursday is that Nigeria’s fiscal position worsened in the first four months of 2022 as the cost of repaying debt surpassed the government’s revenue in the first quarter of 2022.
According to details of the 2022 Fiscal Performance Report for January through April, Nigeria’s total revenue stood at N1.63 trillion while debt servicing stood at N1.94 trillion, showing a variance of over N300 billion.
Rita Joseph suggested that the government should slash the salaries of top public servants, saying that none of them should earn more than N800,000 per annum.
“Cut out all the unnecessary allowances, then send to jail anyone caught embezzling funds! Meanwhile Say No to APC!”.
According to Donchino Lawrence, ”When you understand that Peter Obi didn’t borrow or take a loan in 8 years of his governorship in Anambra, but was able to pay the backlog of pensions, salaries, gratuity and also did his transformation of the state, you’ll give him kudos.
“Man didn’t owe a dime, changed their education, and set the state on the right path. Still saved money for the next governor and administration.
“Nigeria is in dire need of a savior now after being abused severally by successive governments. If Obi could do it in Anambra State, why not trust him to pull us out of this mess? Vote for someone who will rescue your future.”
Safaya Allan said Nigeria’s economic boat is capsizing. We have been impoverished. Debt is now more than revenue and the same government (APC) is also planning for another 8 years. God arise and stop this set of criminals, stop Tinubu and all APC members come 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
“Nigeria “is living on extra time” due to the numerous challenges confronting it,” says Muhammadu Sanusi II, ex-governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in February, 2022.
Sanusi predicted that the country would face more difficult times in 2023 and called on Nigerians to be ready to take tougher decisions in the interest of the country.
What is needed is the political will to cut expenditure and undertake reforms that could scale down the size of the government, said Sanusi, suggesting a reduction in the cost of governance cost and ease of fiscal burden on the government.
2022 Budget Breakdown
Defence and security received N2.41 trillion (15%), infrastructure N1.45 trillion (8.9%), Education budget in Nigeria 2022 is N1.29 trillion (7.9%), health N820 billion (5%), and Social Development and Poverty Eradication N863 billion (5.3%) of the total allocation.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari presented the National Assembly with the 2022 aggregate expenditure budget, which is expected to be N16.39 trillion, up 12.5 percent from the 2021 budget.
Recurrent spending for the projected year is N6.83 trillion, accounting for 41.7 percent of total expenditure and 18.5 percent higher than the 2021 budget, according to a breakdown of the N16.39 trillion estimated budget.
According to the estimate, N5.35 trillion will be spent on capital projects, accounting for 32.7 percent of total spending. Capital components of statutory transfers, GOE capital, and project-tied loan expenditures are all included in this provision.