Budget Padding: Peter Obi Advises Tinubu, NASS on 2024 Budget Review

Peter Obi has urged the Federal Government, under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the National Assembly to reassess the 2024 budget amidst recent controversies and allegations of budget padding. The call comes in the wake of claims made by Abdul Ningi, the senator representing Bauchi Central, who alleged that the budget was inflated by N3 trillion. Ningi, who also chairs the Northern Senators Forum, expressed concerns over what he described as significant damage inflicted on the northern region by the budget, emphasizing the need for an immediate review.

In a statement posted on his X account on Monday morning, Peter Obi highlighted the importance of addressing the myriad challenges currently facing Nigeria. He emphasized the necessity for both the Federal Government and the National Assembly to carefully consider the implications of the alleged budget padding and its potential impact on the nation’s economy and welfare.

Obi’s appeal underscores the growing calls for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s budgetary processes, particularly in light of the serious allegations raised by Senator Ningi. The demand for a thorough review reflects concerns over the equitable distribution of resources and the effective allocation of funds to address pressing national priorities.

As Nigeria grapples with various socio-economic challenges, including insecurity, economic instability, and infrastructure deficits, the prudent management of public finances becomes increasingly crucial. Obi’s call for a comprehensive review of the budget signals a recognition of the need for responsible fiscal management and strategic resource allocation to address the nation’s most pressing needs.

The appeal to reconsider the 2024 budget reflects a broader sentiment within the Nigerian populace for greater transparency, accountability, and efficiency in governance. It underscores the importance of robust oversight mechanisms and effective checks and balances to prevent abuses and ensure that public funds are utilized judiciously for the benefit of all citizens.

In responding to Obi’s appeal, the Federal Government and the National Assembly face the imperative of addressing the concerns raised regarding the integrity and credibility of the budgetary process. The outcome of any review will be closely scrutinized by stakeholders, including civil society organizations, the media, and the general public, as Nigeria strives to foster a culture of responsible governance and fiscal discipline.

Ultimately, the success of Nigeria’s budgetary process hinges on the commitment of government officials to uphold transparency, accountability, and the public interest. By heeding calls for a thorough review, the Federal Government and the National Assembly can demonstrate their commitment to fostering trust, promoting inclusive development, and advancing the welfare of all Nigerians.

“Having followed the controversies trailing the 2024 budget, and having read some of the budgetary provisions and allocations of resources, I wish to respectfully appeal for a total review of the entire budget”, he penned.

Obi highlighted the need for the executive and legislative branches to reassess the budget, particularly to address resource allocation to sectors such as security, poverty alleviation, and power supply.

He said, “The Executive and Legislative arms should initiate an immediate review of the budget as it is still in the early days of implementation in order to enable them do urgent virement of resources to critical areas.”

The former governor of Anambra cited a series of kidnappings, totaling approximately 7,000 over the past year, with 700 occurring in the last three weeks alone.

He referenced a Financial Times report from March 12, 2024, which characterised the kidnapping issue as indicative of a failing state. These incidents, according to Obi, hinder Nigeria’s ability to attract and retain investors.

“In the past 1 year, about 7000 Nigerians have been kidnapped, with about 700 kidnapped in the last 3 weeks, not withstanding the violent crimes and killings that occur in every part of the nation, which must have included us in one of the world’s riskiest countries to live in.”

“A report by the globally respected publication, Financial Times, on March 12, 2024, described Nigeria’s kidnapping racket as a sign of a failed state. With all of these happening in our nation, how then can we attract foreign investors, & retain the confidence of local investors?” Obi questioned.

The former presidential candidate also pointed out the challenges of food insecurity, with escalating food prices, and power outages affecting over 60% of the population.

He mentioned a 2022 Energy Progress Report that identified Nigeria as having the most significant number of individuals without electricity access.

Obi emphasised the state of healthcare, with about 80% of primary healthcare centres non-operational and medical costs soaring. Also, he addressed the educational crisis, with approximately 20 million children not attending school.

“I, therefore, urge our executive and legislative arms to consider the many challenges facing our nation and re-allocate resources to these very critical areas,” he concluded.

Having followed the controversies trailing the 2024 budget, and having read some of the budgetary provisions and allocations of resources, I wish to respectfully appeal for a total review of the entire budget.

— Peter Obi (@PeterObi) March 18, 2024