Our Constitutions and laws envisage the sovereignty of the people from
whom government derives. All its powers and authority. The security
and welfare of the people are declared to be the primary purpose of
government. By the respective oaths of office of the President,
Vice-President and members of the National Assembly, they swore to
discharge their duties to the best of their abilities in the interest
of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well being and prosperity
of the country. They also swore to preserve the Fundamental Objective
and Directive Principles of State Policy which contains the welfare
provisions for the common good of all Nigerians. The President and
Vice president further swore not to allow their personal interest to
influence official conduct and decisions. And the National Assembly is
specifically charged with making laws for peace, order and good
Governance of the Federation.

With the recently approved 2012 budget as a compass, let us examine
how the executive and legislature arms of goverment at the Federal
level have fared in living up to their oath of office. As a prelude,
it is imperative to recall that when the budget was presented to the
National Assembly, Nigerians of all shades of opinion took time to
point out expenditure proposals that were frivolous and contributed
nothing to the public good but enrichment of a few people in Office.
Nigerians were also quick to insist that with the grinding poverty
ravaging the country, there was no need for ostentatious living by
public officials when those they claim to lead are dying of hunger and
disease. But what did we get in return? The budget was approved by the
legislature and signed into law by the president with many of those
issues we complained of intact. Apparently, our views as Nigerians do
not matter to these men and women in power. Their mindset is simple -
you can make your noise but we will have our way.

First, the National Assembly awarded itself  N150bn without any
details known to the public on how it is going to be spent. Can the
legislature come clean with the details? Of course, the members are
not interested. Merely stating that the budget of the National
Assembly is now part of statutory transfers provides no cover for lump
sum budgeting. Can any member of the National Assembly show me the
provision of any law or the constitution backing this abuse of
appropriation of powers? How can the purported representatives of the
people be operating a budget whose content is unknown to those they

Then the Presidency(State House and Office of the Vice President) took
off from there and got N805.8m for food stuff and supplies,
refreshment and meals and another N481.2m for welfare. Suffice to say
that the line item called "welfare" is illegal and unknown to the
Nigerian Law. It is a wasteful expenditure and contributes nothing to
the security and welfare of the people. The welfare of the president
and the members of staff of the State House are already provided in
their personal expenditure and other perks of office. Acting on this
prompting, other Ministries, Departments and Agencies hve generous
provision for welfare and this is in excess of 2.5bn For the
presidency, maintenance of vehicles, generators, furniture, IT
equipment, office and residential buildings will cost N2.485bn.
Replacement of 1,000 sets of crested wares(plates) is to cost N356.7m.
Other priorities of the Presidency include aquisition, upgrading and
furnishing of the VP lounge at Aguda House in the sum of N207.1m. Over
N162m is to be used for watering of lawns and landscaping.

Taking a cue from the above, the Ministry of Finance anchored by the
'celebrated' coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo
Iweala, took N311.8m for welfare packages; N260.9m for refreshment and
meals; and N84.9m for security vote.  Restaurant and fast food chains
will be green with envy on these budgets for refreshment and meals
while a security vote for the ministry beats all imagination. This
security vote is not part of the humongous budgetary security
expenses, N900bn, which Nigerians thought was on the high side.
Security votes have been serially abused and are still open to abuse
because they are not subject to the normal channels of accountability.
Cleaning and fumigation will cost the same Ministry over N70m in 2012.
Not to be outdone, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has over N126m
as spectacle advances, what ever that means.

In many MDAs, after provisions have been made for payments to the
National Health Insurance Fund, there are subsequent provisions for
drugs and medical supplies and medical expenses. The budget of the
office of the Head of service is a typical demonstration of this
anomaly. Further, the head of service has N80m for the development of
a roadmap for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act!
What does the development of a roadmap entail? When did the Head of
service become a fan or supporter of the Freedom of Information
process? This is the same bureaucracy and establishment that fought
the enactment of the FOIA to a standstill for over 20years.

With this trend of appropriation, it is clear that the executive and
the legislatives have allowed their personal interests to influence
their official conduct and decisions. They have placed self over and
above the rights of Nigerians to survive and lead a life of dignity.
This trend of appropriation denigrates the sovereignty, integrity,
solidarity,well-being and prosperity of the country. Nigerians are
becoming more impoverished while their leaders are engaging in more
ostentatious. And conspicuous consumption. When you translate the
above figures appropriated for selfish reasons into a new classroom,
litres of clean water,new mega watts of electricity delivered to our
homes, kilometers of smooth tarred road, quality drugs in our
hospitals, it will be clear that the people have been systematically
shortchanged in the name of appropriation.

In the Ministry of Water Resources, billion of naira have been
appropriated for the construction of solar powered, motorised and
ordinary boreholes and street lights. There appears to be no
evidenced-based costing of the bore holes. While some come as cheap as
3m, others range from N10m, N15m to N30m per bore hole.
Some votes are meant to be deliberately misleading, for instance:
Motorised Borehole in Abi/Yakurr Federal constituency, Cross River
State for N30m. The question is ; how many boreholes and in what
location? In another instance in the Anambra| Imo River. Basin
Development Authority, there are provisions for small Scale Minor
Irrigation Project and small Dam programme in the sum of N105.8m and
88.5m respectively. There are no details and locations - a good
background for the money to disappear into thin air. This is
suspicious vote because detailed provisions with location have been
made for other small scale minor irrigation projects and small earth

Our budgets will continue this way If we do not challenge these
obvious wrongs. The power of appropriation should not be exercised to
the detriment of the majority, albeit long suffering and silent. Now
is the time to end this silence and for once, end the culture of
fiscal impunity.
- Source Eze Onyekpere
THE PUNCH May 7,Vol 17, N0. 20,135 pg 74