Groups kick off campaign for improved budget in 2018
Perhaps as a move to put the Executive and Legislature on advance notice, a coalition of civil society organisations, community-based organizations, professionals and faith-based organisations has advocated improved budgetary allocations in 2018, with particular attention to three drivers of the diversification agenda- agriculture, power and transport.
The groups, under the aegis of Citizens Wealth Platform, made the call in Abuja, last week, at the 2018 Pre-Budget Memo, by the Centre for Social Justice, in conjunction with Heinrich Boll Foundation,
The call became necessary just as the government has prioritized diversification of the economy, which agriculture in particular is a major pillar, warning that the period of lip service to the nation’s economic emancipation should be over, to give way to the realisation of the country’s potential.
Faulting agriculture sector allocations in 2017, at about two per cent, which is against 10 per cent ratified by the country, the groups said they expect nothing less than five per cent of the overall budget in 2018, which is half of Nigeria’s commitment under the Maputo Declaration.
The bulk of the increase also should go to capital expenditure, as a reverse to what is in the budget now, noting that agriculture contributes more than 25 per cent of our extant growth numbers and provides jobs to about 30 per cent of the population.
“Even though it is mainly a private sector activity, government ought to invest more resources in
that sector that contributes and employs the greatest number of Nigerians,” Lead Director of CSJ and spokesperson of the group, Eze Onyekpere, said.
He noted that while government fully implement its plans and policies, it should also ensure that the processes involved support climate change mitigation, adaptation and building resilience.
“Government should stop the sequestration of a huge part of capital funds in the headquarters of the Ministry and send them to agencies and parastatals that need them. Procurement of goods and services is best done at the level of the agency or institution that needs them.
“Renewable energy utilisation in agriculture, including solar boreholes, solar lighting, drying, development of automated solar powered agriculture machines and planters and harvesters should be invested on. This is cheaper in terms of fuelling in the long run and the whole life cycle costs will also be cheaper,” he added.
The Programme Officer at CSJ, Martins Eke, said government should also pay attention to the development of crops for renewable energy like sorghum, jathropha plants, among others, to diversify the sources of energy for our cars and plants, as it will increase the demand for these crops leading to more jobs.
He warned that budget items like Erosion and Flood Control, must now come with actual sites’ mention and description, as a commitment to transparency, accountability and easy monitoring.
“The idea of putting money in the budget for erosion control without the sites promotes corruption, embezzlement and stealing of the money. It does not promote accountability and transparency in the budgeting process,” he said.