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Who will tell Buhari the truth about the economy? — 2

By Dele Sobowale

“Did you feel the impact of N1.3 tn FG spent on capital projects in 2016?”

NOTE: Missing from last week’s narrative was the FDI graph for 2016 to 2017. Here it is below.

THIS article could have been titled FRIENDS OFBUHARI, PLEASE TELL HIM THE TRUTH. Last week, a few names were disclosed of people regarded as Buhari’s close confidantes.

I repeat that it is normal for Presidents to have such people. They generally serve the President well if they tell him the truths which his Ministers and appointees refuse to disclose out of self-interest.

The boast, recently, by the Vice President, that N1.3tn was spent in 2016 on capital projects is a case in point and serves as the starting point for this week’s article. According to the narrative, it was the highest in history – as long as you make no attempt to reduce N1.3tn to dollars and don’t factor inflation into the equation. Once you do, the figure loses much of its propaganda value.

That was question posed by PUNCH to five people in its August 30, 2017 edition. Let us leave for now the answers each of them gave to the question. President Buhari should have asked the first question most Chief Executive Officers with minimum knowledge of economic or finance would have asked those thumping their chests. “What was the budget for Capital Appropriation in 2016?”

The Capital appropriation in the 2016 Budget was N1.58tn; but only N1.3tn or 76 per cent was allocated to various projects and most of them received some of the votes in 2017 when the Accountant General of the Federation allowed expenditures for 2016 to continue until April 2017. Without that, actual performance might have been less than 60 per cent.

The next question the CEO would have asked is: “why the shortfall in Capital appropriation?” The correct answer would have been that a day dreamer had assumed that 2.2 million barrels per day of crude oil would be exported when the actual performance in the last five years was far from that figure. The day dreamer was cautioned by people who had followed the Nigerian economy for more than twenty years about that figure, but he was adamant. Failure followed. But, nobody took responsibility for it.

Social Welfare Programme is another project which would serve as example of how top government officials deceive Buhari. The largest single vote of N500bn was allocated to this programme expected to, among other things, feed 5 million Nigerian kids. About 40 per cent or N200bn was supposed to go into hiring 500,000 teachers and provide food for the kids in 2016. Let me quickly summarise what happened to the promises made with respect to the Social Welfare Programme.

  • By December 2016 only about N80bn had been released out of N500bn or 16 per cent.
  • Recruitment and posting of 200,000 teachers which the VP announced would take place by December 1, 2016 was postponed indefinitely.
  • In July 2017, it was announced that the Federal Government had spent a mere N6bn to feed 2.8 million kids who cannot be located by anybody else but government officials. That is less than 5 per cent funds allocation claiming to have served 56 per cent of the kids targeted. Obviously, somebody is lying. Nowhere do you spend 5 per cent of budget and achieve 56 per cent of results.

Who will tell Baba that his legacy project – the Social Intervention Programme received only about 20 per cent of the budget allocation and the number of kids claimed to be fed is probably fraudulent – especially when Kaduna State alone accounts for 29 per cent of the fictitious kids?

Lagos-Ibadan road had been in the news for the wrong reasons. Contractors stopped work when money stopped flowing their way. But, everybody knows that. What everybody, including Buhari, does not know is that Lagos-Ibadan road is one of the smoothest in Nigeria – terrible as it is. Most Federal Roads are more deplorable. And to dampen any hope that things will look up soon, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister for Power, Works and Housing had this to say.

“We had made some plans to forestall these kinds of things [death traps called roads]. We have identified 61 critical intervention spots across the country following my tour in the first quarter but we did not get the budgetary support to make the intervention.” This was on the last day of August 2017.

Should Baba’s friends still want more, let me end with power generation. On September 1, 2017, it was reported that “the total quantum of electricity lost by the 16 stations during the review period was put at 248MW as the country generated 3,411MW electricity on August 30, 2017, down from 3,659MW the preceding day”. In other words, in August 2017, more than two years after Buhari came to power, Nigeria is still generating the same quantum of power as we did on May 29, 2015.

Can any honest person call that “looking up”?

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