The Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has welcomed the news of the eventual passage of 2018 budget by both chambers of the National Assembly with bated relief and cautious optimism.
CACOL Executive Chairman, Mr. DeboAdeniran, noted that the national budget is finally seeing the light of day almost five months behind schedule with N9.12tn (Nine trillion, One Hundred and twelve Million Naira) approved as against an initial proposal of N8.612tn (Eight Trillion, Six Hundred and twelve Million Naira) submitted on November 7, 2017, by the Presidency.
In same statement by the CACOL Chairman noted that the budget document shows provision for debt servicing of about 23% (Twenty Three percent) of the entire budget and reflected on how “this calls for a serious rethink in our debts accumulation, management and dispensation if we were to ever break from a depressing state of national dependency and underdevelopment”. While agreeing that borrowing for infrastructural development and other avenues that could rejig productivity and self-reliance are not condemnable, Mr Adeniran noted that “the resultant effects of such debt profile should be made manifest within a reasonable length of time while conscious efforts are made towards a healthier economy through bigger Gross Domestic Product (GDP), National Security of people and their properties and other veritable indices of growth and development”.
Mr. Debo Adeniran further said, “CACOL greets the increase in budget volume for the Health sector by a significant shift, especially the final approval of 1% of the overall budget voted towards primary health care provision, which is long overdue. However, the organization decries the embarrassing low budget allocation to Educational sector. Though the N541.2b (Five Hundred and Forty One billion, Two Hundred Million Naira) allocation seems a significant increase from less than N400b allocated to same sector last year, the import of less than 7% macro allocation pales when compared to 26% (Twenty six percent) UNESCO recommendation to education.”
“Also, Nigeria’s allocation to Educational sector has consistently remained one of the lowest even in the West African sub-region with countries like Cote D’ivoire allocating 25 percent, Ghana- 23%, Cape Verde -13 percent, Benin Republic- 15%, etc. On face value, this gives a veiled abhorrence to Education in an age where it is generally agreed that education remains the key to individual and national rebirth, i.e., growth, cohesion and development”, the CACOL Chairman opined.
Advising on the need to fast-track the implementation of the budget due to the late passage of the law, Debo Adeniran averred, “Due to the importance of budget as a veritable mechanism of financial interpretation of and list of to-do by the Government, we call for speedy Presidential assent and strict adherence to its faithful implementation by all organs of government. We also hope and pray for a more robust and speedy passage of our national budget in future”.