Provisions in the 2021 budget recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari indicate that the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) plans to spend a whopping N2.159 billion to furnish its head office, at a time the country is reeling under economic recession.
The anti-drug agency has a total budgetary provision of N12.56 billion under the 2021 budget, with salaries and overheads put at N9.195 billion and N398.97 million, respectively.
The agency was allocated a total of N2.965 billion for capital expenditure, out of which furniture for its headquarters alone, will gulp a whopping N2.159 billion.
Amid the government’s funding challenges, investigations into the 2021 budget show that the planned spending by some federal agencies does not reflect the economic realities on ground.
The 2021 federal budget of N13.6 trillion has been predicated against the backdrop of the COVID-19 global economic crisis that impacted negatively on the global oil market and saw government revenues fall by as much as 60 percent, with a significant slump in crude oil prices. The budget is expected to accelerate the pace of Nigeria’s economic recovery, promote economic diversification, enhance competitiveness and ensure social inclusion.
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Aptly tagged “Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience”, by President Muhammadu Buhari, it was designed to take Nigeria out of its current recession within the first quarter of 2021.
Finance minister, Zainab Ahmed had noted that for the government to achieve budget objectives, it will “require bold, decisive and urgent actions”, adding that “government is determined to act as may be required.”
But allocations for “frivolous spending” by some agencies do not suggest that the government is serious about using the budget to pull through those objectives.
Businessday checks revealed that other items in the capital expenditure list of the NDLEA include, for instance, the purchase of staff /utility bus at the cost of N250 million.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture also budgeted N1.729 billion for the National Agricultural Insurance Corporation, whose operations and achievements remain unclear.
Out of the amount, N1.309 billion is said to be for “Federal Government premium subsidy obligations to farmers”, which from records is hardly successfully implemented.
The balance is to be used to purchase motorcycles and tricycles at the cost of N100 million to be distributed to youths in Funtua, Katsina
State, while balance N290 million, is said to be for the “training and empowerment of women and youths in Lagos State.
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources has been allocated N88.334 billion to revive the 12 river basin development authorities, despite their low productivity.
A breakdown of the allocations shows that Anambra/ Imo River Basin will receive N8.625 billion; Benin/ Owena, N5.874 billion; Chad Basin, N5.345 billion; Hadejia Jamaa’re, N12.045 billion, Cross Rivers Basin, N4.448 billion; while the Lower Benue Basin Authority, will get N14.311 billion.
Others include the Lower Niger Basin, N6.201 billion; Niger Delta River Basin Authority, N5.133 billion; Ogun/ Osun, N4.945 billion; Sokoto Rima Basin, N8.710 billion; Upper Benue Authority, N5.408 billion, and the Lower Niger River Basin Authority, N7.288 billion.