That there is disharmony and a lack of cohesion among the various tiers of government and key agencies has never been more evident. First, it was the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) claiming that the Federal Government (FG) was responsible for the continued failure of its monetary policies through its refusal to implement fiscal policies. Now, the FG has pushed the blame game to the legislative arm of government.
According to THISDAY, the Presidency is of the firm view that the National Assembly is trying to frustrate its plans due to its refusal to fund the controversial constituency projects for 2016. The Senate has consistently dismissed the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, describing the documents as “empty” and not worthy of legislative consideration just as it a few weeks ago rejected the president’s $30 billion borrowing plan, part of which was meant to provide support for the 2016 budget.
“The same MTEF the lawmakers said was empty was the same document presented to a forum of economic experts in Lagos for debate and their input; it was also presented to civil society groups in Lagos and Abuja for debate and their input, before it was later presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval,” the presidency source who spoke to THISDAY said.
According to the source, the excuse that the MTEF was ‘empty’ was not true as it was the same plan that the recently acquired $600 million loan from the African Development Bank was based on. In addition, it was the same MTEF that was presented to the World Bank for part of the proposed borrowing plan of $29.96 billion for infrastructure development.
As usual, Nigerians are in the dark as to who is right and who is not. If the legislators are actually holding out on considering the budget based on the refusal to fund constituency projects, then there must be something else apart from the good of the people at stake. The MTEF is supposed to be the roadmap out of the recession and the pathway to an improved economy for these same people. So why would they not consider it and deal with the constituency projects later?
On the other hand, the FG has not covered itself in glory while attempting to justify its previous decisions, so one cannot categorically vouch for the contents of the MTEF. Just as flaws were clearly exposed in the $30 billion borrowing plan, who says that such flaws are not repeated in the MTEF? After all, the same set of people were responsible for their development.
When the elephants fight, though, they say it’s the grass that suffer. The most obvious losers in the battle between the various arms of government are grassroot Nigerians who are seeking a way out of the current financial crisis.