At this rate, by 2019, this government would’ve succeeded in buying enough “Motor Vehicles” to drive the entire country off the edge.

Thanks to Hon (Dr) Abdulmumin Jibrin, the suspended member of the House of Representatives who had to be suspended, unprecedentedly, for a whole legislative year because the highly compromised souls of the House leadership will be too gutted to always find him too close by. Conscience, they say, is an open wound. As a born again, conscientious objector after being personally implicated as chairman of the House Appropriation committee, Jibrin had turned round to be the peoples’ only source of knowing that: “after the Appropriation Committee received all the budget reports from standing committees, an analysis was conducted. We discovered that about 10 only out of the 96 Standing Committees of the House had introduced about 2,000 projects without the knowledge of their committee members amounting to about N284, 000, 000, 000. I was alarmed. But I was cautious because at our pre-budget meeting with the committee chairmen, I was clearly warned not to touch their budgets. I reported the matter to the speaker. He did nothing about it obviously because he was working behind the scene with the committee chairmen.”

Although that remains an allegation, Nigerians know only too well that if this happened in the lower House, the Senate must have accounted for double. Or how do you account for some members’ love of exotic cars? Jibrin, having been so un-comradely, and with President Muhammadu Buhari breathing down their necks over padding, Senate has very quickly – thanks to the distinguished senator, that one of the armoured cars’ fame – come up with a bill that will see them get through the legislative front door, an amount, double if not triple, what was hitherto, being embedded in the budget, annually.

As is now well known to Nigerians, a bill, sponsored by Senator Oduah, which has since passed the second reading, will when it becomes law, hand over to them 20 percent of the national budget for constituency projects. The about N1.4 trillion will be handed over to them, they being contractors, so they can construct bore holes, erect market stalls, buy sewing machines, grinding machines, knitting machines, motorcycles, tricycles etc for their constituents. If President Buhari cannot stop this nonsense, tell these folks they are elected to make laws and perform oversight functions and not to take on executive functions at either the national or sub national levels, then he should seriously consider resigning from office.

Enough of this utter rubbish like this is the only national assembly on earth.

The Yoruba say it is one smart Alec that can police another. (ole lo nmo ese ole to lori apata). Given this wise saying, Nigerians must plead with the legislature to, this time around, take a critical look at the budget provisions for the Villa which keep increasing in spite of our very parlous economic circumstances. The legislature should help us to know whether a worse padding had actually been going on at the very seat of power when all we have been doing is put the legislature to the guillotine. Not a few commentators have called attention to these ever ballooning figures and all I need do here is copy and paste their findings. While one of the most popular, or was it ludicrous, aspects of the 2016 budget, that is, before Nigerians got to hear about padding, was the N3.6 billion earmarked for the purchase of an unspecified number of BMW saloon cars, the items calling for very careful interrogation in the current budget have more than tripled, as we would show.

One of the commentators referred to above wrote, mutatis mutandis: “The first item is the “Sewage Charges” budget of the State House Headquarters”. It was put at 52,827,800. That means 144,733 per day. Compare this with N 6,121,643 for 2016. This simply means that the vote went up by 1050% compared with the 2015 budget, and 850% when compared with the 2016 budget. The State House Headquarters budget for “Honorarium/Sitting Allowance” is N 556,592,736 while the Jonathan government budgeted 174,471,371 in 2015, and this government, in 2016 jacked it up to 507,518, 861. Have these allowances been increased while workers’ salaries remain stagnant? There is the nebulous thing they call “Residential Rent.” This is something I have failed to understand up till now and I wouldn’t mind someone explaining it to me. That aside, the amount budgeted for this in 2015 was 22,459,575; in 2016 it was 27,735,643. But in this year’s budget of “Recovery and Growth,” this same “Residential Rent” budget went up to 77,545,700. What abracadabra is this? There is an 8,539,200 budget for “Anti-Corruption” and I’m perplexed as to what exactly it is. The last time there was a budget for “Motor Vehicles” or anything like that was in the 2014 budget by the last administration and it was a total of 132,200,000. This government came in 2016 and somehow concluded that the State House Headquarters did not have enough “Motor Vehicles,” so they started by budgeting 877,015,000 which was something like a 650% increase over the 2014 budget for the same item. Yet in 2017, 197,000,000 has again been budgeted for the purchase of “Motor Vehicles” and “Buses.” At this rate, by 2019, this government would’ve succeeded in buying enough “Motor Vehicles” to drive the entire country off the edge. 2016 will go down as one of the darkest years in this country in relation to power supply. So, where is a budget of 319,625,753 for “Electricity Charge” in 2017 coming from for the State house? This was 45,332,433 in the 2016. In 2016 State House Headquarters budget for the “Rehabilitation/Repairs of Residential Buildings” was 642,568,122, while in 2017, it is 5,625,752,757. Meaning that an enormous asteroid most probably managed to destroy the residential building at the State House Headquarters. This goes on until you hit what Olatunji Dare described as a curious affliction in his column in The Nation of Tuesday, 3 January 2017 referring to the never-failing humongous vote for kitchen equipment. As is Professor Dare’s wont, he put it crisply as follows: “This disorder consists in an obsession with “kitchen equipment,” with cutlery and crockery thrown in, and a predilection for purchasing them year after year, without reference to the quantity purchased the previous year, without having to justify any new purchase, without having to account for the previous year’s purchase, and without the least consideration for cost or consequences”. Of the princely sum of N42billion earmarked for the Villa in the budget, expenditure on food, cooking gas and kitchen utensils is expected to gulp over N850 million when, specifically, N100, 820,300 would be spent on the purchase of kitchen utensils such as forks and knives.

It is totally befuddling how the 2017 budget proposals failed completely to take into account the country’s prevailing economic circumstances and all Nigerians can do is plead with the legislature to, for once, do a decent day’s job by taking a critical look at these budget proposals.

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