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2024 Budget: Is “Renewed Hope” Empty Budget?

Tinubu presenting 2024 fiscal budget to the 10th national assembly

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu whose election to the office of the Presidency remains controversial, on Wednesday 29th November, presented a budget of ₦27.5 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year to the joint session of the 10th National Assembly co-chaired by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen. However, a section of members of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Galambi has accused him of presenting ’empty’ boxes supposedly containing the 2024 budget. Ceremoniously, after reading his budget speech, President Tinubu laid two boxes containing the budget documents on the table in front of the presiding officers. The boxes had the colour of the Nigerian national flag of green-white-green but the allegation of its emptiness has raised citizens’ concern about the budget he termed “Renewed Hope” while members sang the campaign song “On Your Mandate” instead of the customary National Anthem.

An allegation that was later debunked as “incorrect” by the Northern Caucus chairman in the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ado Alhassan Doguwa who is also the chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Upstream. In his statement of debunking, he said, “What people don’t know is that the President had submitted a flash drive of the whole budget before his presentation to the joint chambers” but findings show that the said budget was made publicly available on the Budget office of the Federation 5 days after, though subsequent documents relating to the budget were published prior.

Whilst the proposed budget of renewed hope raises questions on what is wrong with Nigeria as an oil-producing nation, netizens took to social media, on how much is budgeted to the Office of Chief of Staff to the President in the sum of ₦21.22 billion. Public scrutiny on excess funds allocated to Femi Gbajabiamila office has been met with outright criticism. The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila came on X (formerly Twitter) to clear the air on what he said is the assumption spread by “mischievous online bloggers and fake news merchants” that such Appropriation Bill of 2024 provision provides for the renovation of the Presidential Quarters in Dodan Barracks and the Vice President’s Lodge in Lagos, to overhaul the information management and communications facilities in the Presidency to meet modern standards and to provide vehicles for the staff of the Presidency and not the residence for the Chief of Staff to the President as he claims to live in his residence.

Read the full statement here.

Nonetheless, it is worthy of note that the Chief of Staff to the President only responds to the part where most are looking—renovation of Dodan Barrack and the Vice President’s Lodge in Lagos. The miscellaneous part is an eyesore given the fact that the current administration uses public funds for refreshments and meals worth over ₦20 million while honorarium and sitting allowance cut across ₦82.9 million. A supplementary budget worth ₦27.9 trillion leaves the educational sector with ₦2.18 Trillion i.e. 7.9% of the FGN Budget, the Health Sector N1.33 Trillion i.e. 5% of the FGN Budget, and Defense spending of ( ₦3.25 trillion) i.e. 12% of budget awaits approval for 2024 while the citizens are faced with multi-dimensional poverty.

 

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