A Nigerian civic organization, BudgIT has expressed deep concerns over the Federal Government’s low investments in key sectors of the Economy; including Education, Health, Power, Works and Housing, Women and Humanitarian Affairs, among others.
BudgIT which expressed the concern in a statement, Friday, by BudIyanu Fatoba, it’s Communications Associate, noted that there is no better time to prioritize national and social development, as well as sustainable improvement of the lives, livelihood and general welfare of Nigerian citizens.
Quoting data available on the Open Treasury Portal, BudgIT said the current investment in social sectors is not adequate enough to cater to the needs of Nigerians and actual expenditures on procurement and financing of projects are not sufficient. For context, between June and September 2020, the Federal Government has made a total payment of N42.73bn and N51.31bn for procurement and projects in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, respectively. Within the same period, payments totaling N105.97bn were made under the ministry of finance which includes payments for line items we consider less productive. An example of such is a whopping N1.25bn paid for the digitisation of the supreme court which we consider a large sum when compared with a meagre N7.7m paid for the upgrading of the Federal Medical Center Yobe State’s Physiotherapy Complex. This level of spending will make it extremely difficult to provide even the most basic of services.
“BudgIT is concerned that budgeted figures may not be representative of the actual amount spent on social sectors as there continues to be a gap between budgeting and implementation.” Said Olaniyi Olaleye, BudgIT’s Senior Research Analyst
“Moreover, in some instances, it is unclear whether the budgetary allocations were actually spent on these sectors, seeing that our previous analysis has shown that some of these payments end up in private accounts.” Olaleye added
According to the organization, it is also worthy of note that the education sector, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has gotten the short end of the stick due to the impromptu but necessary economic shutdown. As we speak, experts have raised concerns about the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, which means that Nigeria urgently needs new investments in infrastructure that can enable distant learning opportunities. This will improve learning experiences in the short and long term.
Furthermore, BudgIT also believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of investing heavily in Nigeria’s Healthcare delivery and the Health sector. Huge financial resources are needed to expand health services and improve the quality of life. Investment in health services should also receive tangible attention in the public investment portfolio.
BudgIT recommends that the Federal Government should increase allocations and funding to the key social sectors, and urges the Federal Government to offer an expansion of funding to make basic Education and Healthcare accessible to even the poorest in Nigeria.