Nigeria’s parliament postpones vote on contentious 2016 budget

Nigeria’s parliament will not vote on the 2016 budget on Feb. 25 as earlier planned due to disagreements between various ministers and top civil servants.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in December presented a record $30 billion budget which was withdrawn in January for changes to be effected following an increase in the budget deficit to N3 trillion ($15 billion) as oil prices continued to fall. However, despite the luxury of time, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government (MDAs) had to prepare their budgets, discrepancies were still noticed in their final submissions.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje disclosed issues based on padding of the budget, arising from bloated overheads and personnel costs were noticed during budget defence by some MDAs. “But generally, there has been a lot of issues. The appropriation committee would look at these issues after the whole budget defence and do a very thorough work aimed at doing a proper clean-up of the budget.

“So in summary, the time-table for passage of the budget is no longer realistic because as appropriation committees of both chambers of the National Assembly, we need additional time to do a thorough job for the 2016 budget,” Goje said.

On Monday, Nigeria’s Health Minister Isaac Adewole had disclosed the budget for his ministry, which he knew about had been tampered with.

“In the revised budget as re-submitted, 15.7 billion naira for capital allocation (expenditure) has been moved to other areas. Some allocations made are not in line with our priorities,” he said.

“We have to look into the details of the budget and re-submit it to the committee. This was not what we submitted.”