The Federal Government has set aside N35.4 billion to address the housing needs of its workforce under the National Housing Programme in 2018.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known when he presented the 2018 budget proposal at the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja on Tuesday.
He also announced a budgetary allocation of N9.8 billion for the Mambilla hydro power project in Gembu in Taraba State.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on August, 30, approved $5.79 billion (about N1.140 trillion) for the construction of the Mambilla hydro plant 45 years after its conception.
Buhari stated that the N9.8billion earmarked for the plant included N8.5 billion as counterpart funding.
He revealed that the 2018 budget estimate also contained N12 billion counterpart funding earmarked for transmission lines and substations as well as N10 billion for the second Niger Bridge project in the South East region.
According to Buhari, about N300 billion has been set aside for the construction and rehabilitation of strategic roads across the country.
“Furthermore, we have also invested a lot of time and effort in identifying alternative means of funding new projects.
“For example, the recent N100 billion Sukuk Financing will cater specifically for the development of 25 roads across the country.
“We also developed different structures that empower private investors to contribute to the development of roads of significant national importance.
“Already, we are seeing results. For example: The Bonny-Bodo Road is being jointly funded by the Federal Government and Nigeria LNG Limited. “This project was conceived decades ago but was abandoned. This administration restarted it and when completed, it will enable road transportation access for key communities in the Niger- Delta region,’’ he added.
The president stated that the Apapa Wharf-Toll Gate Road in Lagos State was also being constructed by private sector investors in exchange for tax credits.
He maintained that the Federal Government had also continued work on key strategic roads, adding that over 766 kilometres of roads were constructed or rehabilitated across the country in 2017.
“For instance, work is at various stages of completion on these strategic roads with immense socio-economic benefits: rehabilitation of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Road; Dualization of Oyo-Ogbomosho-Ilorin Road and rehabilitation of Gombe-Numan-Yola Road.’’
Others, according to him, are dualization of Kano-Maiduguri Road; rehabilitation of Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega road and Kotangora-Makera road that transverse Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger States; rehabilitation and reconstruction of Enugu-Port-Harcourt road; rehabilitation of Enugu-Onitsha Dual Carriageway Road and rehabilitation of Aleshi-Ugep Road and the Iyamoyun-Ugep Section in Cross River State.
The president also disclosed that his administration had embarked on the rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of Lagos-Ibadan Dual Carriageway road; construction of Loko-Oweto Bridge over River Benue in Nasarawa and Benue States and the construction Gokanni Bridge along Tegina-Mokwa-Jebba road in Niger State
…As expert decries poor budget implementation
The Chief Executive Officer, BudgIT, a civic organisation, Mr. Seun Onigbinde, has described Nigeria’s annual budget as a ‘contract vending machine,’ rather than a planning document.
Onigbinde, who said this during a presentation at the Meet-the-Executives forum organised by members of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Lagos yesterday, expressed concern over the poor state of budget implementation in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s budget is a contract vending machine rather than a planning document. This is because a typical budget will first bring all the arms of government together and follow the goals of the ruling party.
“Then, everything you will see in the budget in terms of allocation will follow that pattern. But here, every arm wants to stuff things into the budget, so that its becomes a legal opportunity to procure.
“So, that is the problem. So, if we see the budget as a planning tool, part of the problem we have with the budget will not be coming up,” he added.
According to Onigbinde, after a country’s constitution, the second most important document is the budget that stipulates allocation of resources to members of the public.
“People would tell you that after the constitution of a country, the most important thing is the budget. Gradually, we are moving to a point where every single person would be able to have a conversation on the budget,” Onigbinde added.
He urged states to desist from going for foreign loans because of currency risks. He added: “We are warning states to be careful of external debts. If it is a local debt, there could be a bailout by the Federal Government to reschedule your debt. But external debts, you don’t have the luxury of the Federal Government that receives oil revenue in dollars.
So, if you borrowed at N167 to a dollar and you are now paying back at N315 to a dollar, you are going to be more hit by the currency risk. So, it is a thing that we try to warn states about. So, you don’t see cheap loans and start jumping into it.
Onigbinde argued that zero-budgeting system which the current administration promoted at the beginning of their regime can’t work in Nigeria, because you have thousands of abandoned projects.
“Zero-based budget is that you are going to start as fresh. But we are in a phase of development where most of our projects are rolled over. I think what we need more is the same envelop budget we have been doing, but we need to make it clearer. What we are supposed to do is to make sure that the budget is detailed enough,” he said.