The ‘budget of change’ might as well be the ‘budget for public servants’
President Buhari’s 2016 ‘budget of change’ might as well be construed as ‘budget for public servants’ going by the fact that federal public servants which constitute less than one per cent of Nigeria’s population has a lion share of 70 per cent while capital expenditure has a paltry 30 per cent. It is now a fact that Nigeria will never be able to rise from her current economic debacle as long as only a few people eat our commonwealth hence the reason why we are where we are today in terms of the shameful infrastructural development we parade. It is completely irresponsible for public servants to allocate the largest portion of the national budget to themselves at the expense of developing in1frastructure to better the lives of Nigerians.
Going by the fact that the government of President Buhari came into office through the promise of change, Nigerians would have expected that this budget will be radically different from the past. Hopes were very high that Nigerians will soon begin to enjoy the dividends of the ‘change’ promised by this administration but this now seems like a mirage going by the figures contained in the budget. President Buhari may say he understands and feels the pain and cries of Nigerians but we know words are cheap because clearly, if indeed he feels the pain of Nigerians, this ought to reflect in the budget figures. A situation where a few public servants are to receive 70 per cent of the budget while the rest Nigerians are left to wallow in abject poverty is rather unfortunate. It is common knowledge that Nigeria’s federal civil service is over-bloated, filled with ghost workers and nearly comatose. It is also a fact it is a huge burden on Nigeria to have such outrageous number of federal legislators and government appointees who take a larger share of the overhead budget. Agreed, President Buhari may have needed time to properly study the budgeting process so that he can come up with a budget that can meet our developmental needs and also the yearning and aspirations of Nigerians. It is therefore believed that he will set up a process that will remove duplicated and unnecessary expenses in the coming budgets.
The president also needs to reform and refocus the civil service from its current state of gross inefficiency. President Buhari must immediately begin a process that will drastically reduce the staff strength of the federal civil service. Nigeria cannot afford to continue to endure an over-bloated and ineffective civil service at the detriment of our developmental needs. We must purge the system of idle and ineffective hands to create room for good brains to enter the system. The dubious quota system of hiring civil servants must immediately be eradicated so that meritocracy can be introduced. Also, a system where our so-called ‘servants’ live large and clearly above their salaries while Nigeria suffers should not continue. President Buhari must freeze further recruitment until the number of civil servants is brought to a manageable size.
Nigerians must be awake to this anomaly and be aware that the country will never experience real growth and transformation until there is a reverse of the ugly trend where a few people hold the entire country to ransom. If this ugly and unfortunate situation is not urgently reversed, it is only a question of time and Nigeria will suffer an economic cardiac arrest and her whole system will shut down. Nigeria’s resources belong to all Nigerians. President Buhari therefore must immediately addresses this problem by first conducting an audit of the civil service and implementing the recommendations of previous committees on restructuring of the civil service and merger of the duplicated government services and institutional mandates. If properly done, 2017 budget offers the president another opportunity to reverse this trend and come up with a budget where capital expenditure will take up at least 60 per cent and recurrent expenditure 40 per cent.
By Abdulrasheed Mohamm