NLC calls for interrogation of ‘humongous’ N2trn budgets of CBN, Customs, NIMASA, others

The Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC) on Wednesday, called on all Nigerians to join the Labour and its civil society’s allies to interrogate the N2 trillion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 2020 budget and that of other government agencies whose yearly budgets are not included in the overall National Budget.

Giving his remarks at the opening of a Roundtable Discussion on the 2020 Budget held at the Labour House, Abuja, President of NLC, Com. Ayuba Wabba said the budgets of about 60 government agencies, including the CBN, Nigeria Customs Service, and Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) alone is equal to 60 percent of the National Budget.

Specifically, he pointed out that the 2020 budget of the CBN alone was about N2 trillion, adding that the budgets of these agencies are humongous; yet the attention of Nigerians is not being focused on these budgets.

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Unfortunately, he lamented that as huge as these budgets are, they are not accountable, adding that as pointed out by the Auditor General of the Federation, these agencies are not audited; and where audited, the report is not respected.

To this end, the NLC President pointed out that the budget roundtable discussion is to come out with a clear document and strategy to be adopted to seriously engage the Federal Government and other agencies on effective implementation of their budgets.

He said the congress will partner with the Auditor General of the Federation to raise all the issues he has been complaining about and ensure transparency and accountability in the budget system.

Com. Wabba said: “We will do a lot of engagement and we will be able to come out clearly with a policy document that can be used to do serious engagement with government and other agencies.

“It is about getting information, about taking the decision, it is about also producing policy documents that will assist both the NLC and her affiliates, these are civil society allies to do proper engagement. Therefore I want to thank the research committee and the secretariat for starting and driving the process effectively this morning.

“The issue of budget is so important in Nigeria although it is also controversial because whereas we have always looked at the national budget, but while I was preparing and looking at the context of discussing budget in Nigeria I realized also that there are about 60 agencies that their budget alone is more than 60 percent of our national budget.

“I single that one, CBN, this morning when I was trying to look at my document and I saw that the budget of CBN alone for this year is about N2 trillion and many other agencies, NIMASA, Customs, they are not captured in the national budget and when you put their budget altogether, it is about 60 per cent of the national budget.

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“Therefore, most times, our attention is not being focused on these budgets and the money is so humongous.

“Take for instance CBN, there may be duplication of efforts where we have scarce resources, but there is a lot of duplication of efforts or at worst nothing happens. Secondly, closely related to the issue of the budget, is also the issue of accountability and transparency because most of these budgets are being implemented by ministries, departments, and agencies.

“In most cases, they are not accountable, and that has been pointed out clearly. I think I have to appreciate our colleagues for pointing out the fact that in the present days Nigeria, the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, has been reduced to mere NGO because its report is not taken seriously.

“But he has raised fundamental issues about budget implementation, about leakages, about corruption still in the body of our ministries, departments, and agencies. Therefore, it is high time if we want to move forward and make sure that even the scarce resources that are available are budgeted a year in year out, let us see how they can be able to make an impact.

“The fact is that impact is not being made, the budget system is like a ritual, every year we come we make the ritual and it goes. At the end of the day when you look at the performance of the budget, or what we have been able to achieve through the budget, I think we have not been doing a postmortem of what we have been able to achieve actually.

“For instance, the year ending 2019, what is the performance of the budget, where are those projects located, can we actually see the projects, for which the money has been carted away. These are issues that we need to address. That is why the office of the Accountant General of the Federation has come out clearly to say that many agencies are not audited and where he audits them the report is not respected.

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“We call on government very strongly because we are going to partner with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to raise issues about what he has been able to bring out.

“Part of fighting corruption is to ensure that the scares resources are managed in such a way that citizens are able to benefit. It will address the issue of inequality, it can address the issue of poverty, it can address the issue of unemployment but importantly, it can fix some of our critical infrastructures.

“Today you see the standards of our roads, you see the budget, what was provided is to build a standard road, but when the road is completed, give it three years, you will find out that the road is almost gone.

“That is why when you compare the road that is being built now and the roads we have in the 60s and 80s, those roads are still standing. These are a lot of contradiction and those are things that we intend to interrogate.”

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