A Bill for an Act to Amend the Appropriations Act 2020, to Authorize the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N10,509,654,033,053 (N10.5 trillion naira) which was presented to the House of representatives for approval on Thursday 28 May, tells the stories of the misplaced priorities of the Nigerian government.
The Nigeria’s 2020 budget which was revised as a result of drop in government revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that building renovation is more important than the Primary Health Provision Fund.
The budget makes one to wonder what the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration value most. The motives and intentions of our elected Senators and Representatives as well the appointed Ministers are under question.
How can N27.7 billion be budgeted for the renovation of National Assembly Complex that doesn’t seem to need any renovation while the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), which aims at improving primary health care across all the primary health centres in Nigeria gets N25.5 bn, if not misplaced priorities in a country where people die of preventable and treatable diseases?
Is this the time for National Assembly to be talking about building renovation? The latest report released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics showed that 1 in 10 of every Nigeria is poor. This figure amounts to over 80 million Nigerian being poor prior to Covid-19 pandemic.
With the economic hardship brought upon the country by Covid-19, the level of poverty in Nigeria is bound to escalate.
It is significant to note the percentage reduction in the aforementioned budget items. Universal Basic Education budget which aims at providing access to nine-year formal basic education for every Nigerian child within the school age, was slashed by 54%.
The Basic Health Care Provision Fund was cut by 42.57% whereas the National Assembly budget and National Judicial council was cut by mere 10%. BHCPF is made up of 1% of Federal Government Consolidated Revenue.
A look at the revised 2020 budget figures stated above show that the Nigerian Government has not learnt any lesson from the ravaging effect of Covid-19, which has overwhelmed strong health systems around the world and brought them to their knees.
This is the time government should budget more money to the renowned weak health system in the country as it battles with the fast spreading Covid-19 disease in the country.
Recall that Investogist reported on 18 May that Nigeria will spend N2.95 trillion on Debt Servicing alone according to this revised 2020 budget.
The crash in oil prices which forced the government to slash the oil price benchmark twice has deeply affected the government’s revenue. The benchmark was originally placed at N57 per barrel and has now been revised to N25 per barrel.
Considering that Nigeria is currently increasing its borrowing at an alarming rate to fund its budget, it is time to ensure that the money borrowed is used judiciously to impact the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
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It is worrisome that the government got a second opportunity to get it right with its 2020 budget, yet the government totally misused this opportunity.
In a Tweet regarding the disproportionate cuts in the Revised 2020 Budget, BudgIT said “BudgIT is aware of the cuts made in the revised 2020 budget currently under NASS review. We will be submitting a memo of our observations to NASS. We believe that this is time for Nigeria to expand funding for the social sectors – health & education”
BudgIT is aware of the cuts made in the revised 2020 budget currently under NASS review.
We will be submitting a memo of our observations to NASS. We believe that this is time for Nigeria to expand funding for the social sectors – health & education. #AskQuestions
— BudgIT Nigeria (@BudgITng) June 3, 2020
Disclaimer: The 2020 budget figures were obtained from Punchng.