The more you see, the less incomprehensible the ways of govt

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EARLY  this week, the Rule of Law Collective (TRLC), described as “a civic platform comprising Nigerians from all walks of life who through debate, discourse and civic action seek to advance public service and accountable governance in Nigeria, through the fair, non-discriminatry and effective application of laws”, issued an analysis of the 2014 federal budget proposal, presented to the National Assembly, by Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on December 19, last year.

The budget’s estimated expenditure for 2014 totals a sum of N4.6 trillion. The recurrent component amounts to N2.4 trillion while capital spending will amount to N1.1 trillion. Debt servicing will take N.7trillion and SURE-P spending will come to N.3trillion. Recurrent spending amount to 76.3% of the budget while capital expenditure amounts to only 23.7%.

But, as they say, with these budgets, the devil is always in the detail.  The Rule of Law Collective discovered these incredible selected estimates in health care:

a.Construction of a VIP Wing at the State House Clinic: N705million

b.Total Capital Budget for Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital: N328million

c.Total Capital Budget for University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital: N310million

d.Total Capital Budget for NPMA Children Hospital, Sokoto: N89million

e.Total Capital Budget for the Institute of Child Health, University of Benin Teaching Hospital: NIL

In the words of TRLC, “to the formulators of the budget, the VIP Wing of the State House Clinic is superior in terms of cost, priority and efficient allocation of resources to 2 teaching hospitals. A Nation Children’s Hospital and a Paediatric Research Institute”.

In the area of Defence and National Security, comparative allocations are even more frightening:

a. Stipend and Allowances to 30, 000 Niger Delta Militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme: N23.6 billion

b.Reintegration of Transformed Ex Militants: N35.4b illion. So the Niger Delta Militants take a total of N59billion.

c.Total Capital Expenditure for the Nigerian Army: N4.8 billion

d.Total Capital Expenditure for the Ministry of Defence HQ: N34.2 Billion

e.Total Capital Expenditure for ALL police formations and Commands: N6 billion. “(TRLC) finds it incomprehensible that the stipends for 30, 000 ex-militants exceeds by more than double the cost of providing facilities and procuring kit and equipment as well as weapons and ammunition for the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force combined”.

Deepening the absurdity

Similarly, the body expressed deep worry that “the cost of reintegrating ex-Niger Delta militants exceeds the combined capital expenditure of the three arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force)”.

And to deepen the absurdity, the Jonathan administration budgeted only N2billion to rebuild the North East of Nigeria where, in the words of TRLC “damage to property and lives remains inestimable”.

The Collective exposed other absurdities, from monies earmarked for a new presidential jet through to expenditure to feed animals in the Aso Villa zoo. What seems clear is that the present administration, like all the PDP administrations since 1999, has employed a tunnel vision approach to the governance process. These PDP regimes have pursued ruling class centred projects that consolidate the wealth of a tiny minority of the rich, while denying a meaningful social net for the mass of the poor.

There is a more worrisome element from the Yar’adua administration to the Jonathan administration. They are very provincial in nature. Yar’adua’s government was dominated and propped up by a crop from his native Katsina state. It narrowed the base of the administration’s already questionable legitimacy; but Yar’adua’s provincialism has been taken to an even more dangerous level by Goodluck Jonathan. His has been built on a basis of appropriating huge sums of money to projects that shore up his ethnic constituency, including even outsourcing the nation’s maritime security to some of the Niger Delta militants. The newer element of the provincialism of the Jonathan administration is the politics by threats, abuses and intimidation of other Nigerians, by elements from the Niger Delta.

As we approach the 2015 elections, the ethnic base that Jonathan has carefully cultivated and empowered economically will become even bolder in its excesses as it realises that only the retention of power by their man, will assure continuity of the access they have secured to huge resources from the Nigerian state. It is therefore not accidental, that the 2014 budget, just a year before the 2015 elections, has allocated obscene sums to the Niger Delta, even to the detriment of the nation’s security architecture. The ways of government, when they don’t possess sufficiently nationalist and patriotic perspectives, tend to endanger the national wealth.

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