WITHIN the eight-year administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a total of N94.67 trillion appropriation bill was signed into law.
This is 3.67 per cent higher than the total amount of N91.31 trillion proposed by the president to the National Assembly before its approval.
By this, it implies that, under Buhari’s administration, the 8th and 9th Assembly increased the budget with N3.35 trillion.
The president is set to hand over power to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect, on May, 29, who will be working with the N21.83 trillion signed into law in January as the 2023 budget.
The budget was increased by 6.44 per cent over the N20.51 trillion proposed by the president.
The ICIR reported that the 2023 budget allocated N967.5 billion for statutory transfers, N6.6 trillion for debt servicing, N8.3 trillion for recurrent expenditure, and N5.9 trillion for capital expenditure.
Meanwhile, checks by The ICIR revealed that, under Buhari’s administration, the National Assembly increased the budget seven times.
While this is not peculiar to the Buhari’s government, data collated from media reports by The ICIR showed that National Assembly had increased a budget as high as by 6 per cent against the proposed amount.
Budget for the first four-year tenure
Buhari was sworn into office on May 29, 2015, succeeding Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who had signed N4.4 trillion as budget a few days before he handed over following several controversies.
In December 2015, Buhari presented his first appropriation bill of N6.08 trillion for the 2016 fiscal year. The budget significantly increased the capital expenditure by over 300 per cent to N1.8 trillion. However, in March 2016, the National Assembly, after reviewing the bill, reduced it by 0.33 per cent to N6.06 trillion.
The president assented to the bill two months after it was passed by the assembly.
In December, of that same year, Buhari presented N7.928 trillion as the proposed budget for 2017 which he themed as the “budget of economic recovery and growth” targeted at steering the economy from the current recession.
After its deliberation in the National Assembly, the budget increased to N7.44 trillion, 1.95 per cent higher than what was proposed. The Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, signed the budget in June while the president was on his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
A total of N8.612 trillion was submitted as the budget for the 2018 fiscal year in November 2017. It was increased to N9.12 trillion, 5.9 per cent, by the 8th Assembly. By June 2018, the president assented to the bill amid several controversies around the increment.
By December, Buhari presented N8.83 trillion as the budget for the 2019 fiscal year. It was approved in May after the assembly had increased it by 0.91 per cent to N8.92 trillion a month earlier.
Budget for the last four-year tenure
Buhari was re-elected into office for a second term in 2019. In October, he sent N10.33 trillion naira as the proposed budget for 2020 to the assembly.
It was the first time the budget would hit a double digits figure. The 9th Assembly continued the trajectory to increase the budget by N260 billion. Buhari signed an increased amount of N10.59 trillion.
However, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which suspended the country’s economic activities, the budget was later revised to N10.8 trillion to accommodate additional expenditure in June 2020.
Three months later, the president presented the sum of N13.08 trillion as the proposed 2021 Budget estimates to the Assembly but approved N13.59 trillion, an increase of 3.9 per cent, in December.
For 2022, Buhari proposed a bill of N16.39 trillion tagged the “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability” to the joint assembly for deliberation. It was increased to N17.12 trillion, an increase of 4.45 per cent.
While the 2023 budget was increased from N20.51 trillion by 6.44 per cent to N 21.83 trillion.
Expert express concerns
Meanwhile, Senior Research & Policy Analyst for BudgIT, Vahyala Kwaga, told The ICIR that the country’s fiscal management mediates between several competing interests when it comes to budget approval in the National Assembly.
“The reason behind the difference in what the President proposed and what he signed is a result of 3 main things; the inability of our supreme oversight and citizen’s representative-the National Assembly to discharge its functions, the inability of the President to reject the budget bill, as passed by the National Assembly and the third cause is due to the lack of clear guidelines and rules on whether or not the National Assembly can increase the size of the budget,” he said.
Kwaga also mentioned that the budget is likely to continue in its double digits increase due to Nigeria’s macroeconomic fundamentals-inflation, low revenue as a result of low oil production and exchange rate imbalance.
He noted that the country’s fiscal economy, including the world, had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the incoming government would have to make tough decisions, like removing fuel subsidies and other proper strategies.
Read about states budget performance here.