SHOW BUSINESS OPERATORS, would always say: “There is no business, like show business”. In leadership and governance, this maxim aptly fits that: “There is no business, like good management of resources; or, no business, like good governance”. Political leadership, short of good governance, as well as, effective management of resources, would be opaque.
Nigeria’s 2020, annual national budget, passed into law by the National Assembly, awaiting President Buhari’s assent, would be relevant to Nigerians, if knotted on efficient and effective performance for economic growth and national development. Otherwise, the early passage of the budget, to return the country’s budgeting year to January to December, would simply be academic exercise, or another ritual.
Nigeria’s national budget performance, from the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Buhari’s 2019 budget, have been rated very low and sluggish, by expert economists and analysts. Budgets performance have been between 30 and 50 per cent. Analysts blamed late budget passage for failed implementation. Slipshod implementation of national budgets are the results of long years neglect and decayed infrastructure.
Decayed infrastructure are seen in Nigeria’s economic sectors – Health, Education, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Energy, Roads, Railway, Housing, and so on. None seemed to have move the nation forwards. They are all in bad shape, despite huge annual budgets to the sectors. Infrastructure in the country are grossly underdeveloped. In key areas, they are no match to what is available in smaller countries in the sub-region, and in African continent.
Nigeria’s huge infrastructure deficit would require minimum of $3 trillion investment to bridge the gap in the next 30 years, according to projections. Nigeria’s Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Alex Okoh, said the country would require an average of $100 billion per annum, for the next six years to meet that target. Okoh gave these figures at a meeting with World Bank delegation, led by senior Economist, Economics and Private Sector Development, Volker Treichel, in Abuja, in April.
The fall-out of failed national development are nagging unproductive vices in the country. Nigeria’s present rate of poverty and unemployment, for example, is scary. A nation and a people endowed with vast natural resources – oil-producing, in particular, had little or nothing to show for playing host to multi-billion-dollar industry — oil. Blurred hope and failed expectations have been the rewards all these years.
Components of President Buhari’s 2020, national budget may seem deficient, according to analysts and commentators. The deficient indicators been the budget size, debt servicing, borrowing plans, neglecting priority areas in funds allocation to the sectors, among others. The early passage of the budget, needs however, be match with early implementation to ensure full implementation of the budget within the budget year. This is key.
National budgets are road map to physical planning and infrastructure development. January to December, budget circle, beginning with 2020, budget, if matched with early, efficient and effective implementation, could chart new road map for infrastructure development revolution in the country. Legislative time-line oversight, would be needed to check failures by ministries, departments and agencies of government, MDAs, to efficiently execute 2020 budget.
COMMUNICATION is life-wire of successful systems. It permeates all walks of life – political governance, corporate governance, industries, commerce, education, religion, and social system. Good communication skill is used to express government’s goodwill, intentions and achievements. Effective communication enables the public to have adequate information to base their judgement on government activities and performance.
Buhari’s ministers, heads of departments and agencies, MDAs, need to be scheduled to brief the nation on their budgets performance. With focus on achievements and challenges. The era should be gone, when ministers, simply, brief state house journalists, routinely, after every Wednesday’s federal executive council meetings, presided by the president or the vice president, on government’s proposals and approvals, without routine corresponding feedback on performances and achievements.
Nigeria’s long years of infrastructure neglect and development failures, due to poor budget implementation, urgently and pragmatically need strategic planning and measures to reverse. Buhari’s government knows this, and must be open-minded to achieve the desired result. But the government is averse to criticism. Even when it is constructive criticism.
The government needs the skills to absorb criticisms. Also, develop the skillful urge to listen, listen and listen. Government’s spokespersons, need to be constructive in speaking and writing, while addressing issues of governance, in a way that will produce desired results.
Years back, Nigeria looked forward to clear cut economic ideology that could translate and make the dream of the country’s economy being among the world’s best 20 economies by the year 2020. Few weeks away, Nigeria along with the rest of the world – developed and developing countries, sails into the year 2020. Yet, Nigeria, remains a rudderless state.