By Tunde Asaju
Budgets?! Pretty boring stuff! Who cares about budgets anyways? It is one of those hollow rituals that those who imposed democracy on the African insist as a right of passage. So every year, a few evil servants who apparently failed mathematics and to whom statistics is magic sit in a conference room poring over last year’s figures that translated to nothing and looking at what phony paddings they could add to it. It is a period that the motto of WWE’s Brock Lesnar is adjusted to suit the purpose – eat, doze a little, juggle figures, retreat and repeat over many weeks. The end result being; to make a Kilimanjaro out of a termitarium just to confuse the lot of us.
Yes, the rest of us, who Godwin Agbroko of blessed memory says have a poor sense of mathematics. Come to think of it, as they say here who maths don epp? If I knew how to juggle figures, I’ll be a billionaire today – like thief Ibori with a whole lot of converts not only singing my praises but ready to die for me to live. I’d be like Joshua Dariye, wanted in London for alleged corruption but celebrated in Ogun as a sinnator. I’d be as popular as Esho Jinadu, aka Buruji Kashamu who deposed that he is not the drug courier wanted in America but wouldn’t accept a no-visa-hassle-all-expense-paid first class ticket to Chicago to prove his innocence. Time and space would not permit us to debate the morality of the son of Oloye and his lawyer-colleague; presiding officers who swore that padding is not an offence known to law?
I hate budgets for a different reason. They tend to rub it on most of us who went to school but are not learned; are well travelled but not educated. How else could we sit down year after year after year, debating figures that barely impact the lives of anyone outside government house and regime lackeys? How could we parade so many degrees yet praise new budgets with no clue as to the impact of the last one?
How could the party whose governors owe salaries win elections? How could a president whose wardrobe allowance betrays his sense of frugality be a friend of the talakawa? How could those whose severance packages for a few years of ‘service’ entitle them to a lifetime of pension be our leaders? How could we in good conscience watch pensioners die on verification queues while political pensioners fly above our heads? How did a governor force workers to sign off their unpaid wages only to use the funds to decorate streets with Christmas lights without a whimper of protest?
I hate budgets. It is a hollow ritual that is alien to reason. A day is set aside in which a governor or the president dresses in his Sunday or Friday best, closes the road for easy access to the parliament of looters, reads a boring speech and drops a bombshell near the mace while winking at contractors in the public gallery.
So, it is December and the annual ritual is happening everywhere, from budgets presented and approved in a day, to those with constituency projects that are never executed. In December, we are presented with the budget to end all recessions and the provisions are as frugal as Sai Baba and Osibajo’s sachet Milo and Cowbell. Here are a few details, Jonathan fed with close to a billion and left so much poo in the sewer that Buhari now needs N53 million to shove it! Sorry, Sai Baba has many children and grandkids, Alhamdullilah, there goes the 763% jump in sewage bills. You should’ve left Sai Baba in Kaduna but you drafted him to Abuja!
An overpaid and underperforming executive proposes to pay itself a sitting allowance. A landlord makes provision to pay his own rent and justifies it by naming the property after his son. If you think the crater on your way home is bad; be comforted, even Aso Rock is leaking and needs N5.6 billion to fix it, the kitchen needs N100 million unbreakable cutlery because thieves take the spoons home as memento. The new spoons are coded to beep in pockets and purses, Aso kitchen thieves beware so that what happens to Christmas chicken thieves in the East does not happen to you.
For those asking for Fashola’s head over blackouts, be comforted, even the Rock needs N45 million to pollute the atmosphere. Instead of complaining about international junkets, let us pray for our names to be on the presidential junket list – there’s N739 million to be spent on travels and tours in this year’s budget.
Now, this must make hecklers happy, there is an N8.5 million anti-corruption provision in the 2017 budget – it must be for whistleblowers! If you find corruption anywhere, here’s a chance to make it big in 2017. It does not matter what recession says, 2017 would answer to whatever the men on the pulpits call it. If you’re a Churchian, just focus on what your bishop calls this year!