06 Apr

The week ahead – Uneasy lies the crown

Senate President Bukola Saraki has told the Federal Government to let the implementation of the 2017 budget run till the end of May 2018. Saraki’s comment, which was directed at Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, followed a point of order raised by Atai Aidoko (PDP, Kogi East). Aidoko brought the attention of the senate to a circular issued to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, which said that 2017 budget funds will be “mopped up” by March 31. Claiming that the letter contravened the provisions of section 3(1) of the 1999 Constitution, Aidoko added that the section mandates that the budget runs for 12 months after Presidential assent. President Buhari assented to the 2017 budget in May 2017. Reacting to the point of order, Saraki asked the finance ministry to rescind the circular, adding that it did not have the powers to make the order.

A Daily Trust analysis of the NBS data, indicates that Nigeria’s 36 states will take at least seven years to repay their total debt stock using their internally generated revenues alone. According to the NBS, at the end of 2017, states’ total debt stock stood at ₦7.33 trillion while total IGR was a paltry ₦931.23 billion, 12.69 percent of total debt. Only a handful of Nigerian states can fund their operations with only their IGR, with Federal Government allocations being the primary source of their finances. The analysis showed that states would require three years to clear their debt using all revenues from their IGR and Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations. The total debt stock comprised of external debts and domestic debts while the total revenue included revenues from net FAAC allocations, and IGR.

Up to 12 people, including six policemen and six civilians were killed in Offa, Kwara state, when a gang of up to 30 bank robbers attacked the town. The robbers blocked the roads from both Ilorin (to the North) and Osogbo (to the South), then went into Owode Police Station and shot four policemen before proceeding to the banks in the Sanni Aba area of Offa. The amounts stolen from the banks have not been confirmed.

Sierra Leone’s ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) is demanding a vote audit from the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) stronghold before the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announces results of the 31 March presidential runoff. An elections monitoring group, Sierra Leone Decides reported the development citing a letter signed by APC National General Secretary, Osman Foday Yansaneh, and addressed to the NEC Commissioner in the Southern Province. The said province is an SLPP stronghold according to political watchers. Its candidate, Julius Maada Bio was born in the Bonthe District located in the Southern Province. The letter alleged electoral malpractices which it said had the tendency of impacting the final results.

Suggestions

  • While Bukola Saraki’s position on ending the 2017 budget in May is legal, we are concerned that an executive and legislature led by the same party, the APC, has not been able to pass the 2018 budget four months into the new year. For the three budget cycles this administration has overseen, the budgeting process has been plagued with all manner of disappointing incidents, delays and claims that bordered on the ridiculous at times. When we couple this with the lack of transparency on budget implementation, the budgeting process has deteriorated significantly under the current administration, and cannot be seen to be the driver of the governmental agenda it is meant to be. It is a sad commentary on the state of things.
  • A few months ago, the dominant topic of discussion in political circles was restructuring the Nigerian state. This has died down largely because of two factors – the increased revenues from oil proceeds on the back of higher oil prices and production, and the onset of election season. 2019 will see the entry of some new state governors and their focus will be on making their marks via developmental programmes rather than fiscal responsibility. It is safe to say that the debt stock of the country will continue to rise into the next election cycle in 2023.
  • The sheer number of the men in the Offa robbery gang, the manner in which the robbers first blocked off the roads into town, then attacked the symbol of authority, before proceeding to do their work for a few hours unimpeded is indicative of a growing confidence that they own the space. This loss of monopoly of violence of the Nigerian state in swathes of its territory continues to embolden non-state actors to be more and more audacious in their acts of violence in the state. This slow burn will reach a tipping point where people rescind the outsourcing of protection from violence which they made to the state and resort to protecting themselves. We are firmly on the road to that tipping point as has been shown by calls from various influential figures for people to defend themselves. If we get to that point at scale, the collapse of the Nigerian state will become inevitable.
  • Sierra Leone’s presidential runoff is the final leg of an electoral process that saw voting for presidential, legislative, and councillors. Out of a field of sixteen candidates, the runoff pits the APC’s Samura Kamara against the SLPP’s Julius Maada Bio, who won the first round with 54.1 percent of the vote, for the honour of succeeding Ernest Bai Koroma. Whoever wins will have to deal with implementing structural economic reforms in a country still recovering from years of conflict, with the outlook for 2018 and beyond challenging due to the uncertainty surrounding iron ore prices, its main export. Expected GDP growth of 6.1 percent this year, and 6.5 percent next year according to the African Development Bank should help the world’s 151st largest economy, but a lot of that will depend on resolving the political uncertainty occasioned by an election that West African partners are closely monitoring.