State House Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbile surprised senators yesterday when he said N1.305 billion budgeted for meals, refreshment, and miscellaneous expenses for the 2013 year was “grossly insufficient”. Ogbile made this statement when he defended his budget of N14.715 for 2013 before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs. The permanent secretary told the committee that capital expenditure for the new year would gulp N5.569 billion while N7.522 billion was budgeted for overhead costs and the remaining N1.622 billion for personnel. Miscellaneous expenses breakdown for Aso Rock shows that N203,752,432 was allocated for refreshment and meals, N107,412,768 is for honorarium and sitting allowance.
Publicity and advertisement would gulp N37,277,825. Other expenses include: Medical N50,308,546, postage and courier service N10,035,583; Welfare packages N195,066,223; Subscription to professional bodies N4,589,793 and Sporting activities N32,910,730. The expenses include: Overtime N250,455,589; Feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary clinic, N30,584,144; Summit/Extra ordinary sessions including the UN, African Union, ECOWAS, etc N228,112,862 while NYSC,IT,LOCUM, housemanship and contract staff allowance N144,788,555. Having listened to Ogbile’s presentation, Senator Isa Galaudu, a member of Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, noted that Nigeria’s budget in one year was what South Africa spent in five years. Senator Galaudu said this in response to Ogbile’s complaint that the money was not even enough. Looking critically at this budget, one is troubled by the huge sums of money budgeted for various items for the 2013 fiscal year. For instance, how many letters will the State House write in year that will consume a whooping N10,035,583? Also, how many employees does the State House has that will attract welfare packages of N195, 066,223 in one year? One other item that drew the attention of Nigerians is the sporting activities. What kind of sporting activities do the employees of the State House engage in that will swallow a whole N32, 910,730? From the budget, N250, 455,589 will be expended on overtime! Do ministries pay overtime allowances to their employees? Ministry workers resume work at 8 am and close at 4 pm, what time do they spend for overtime work that such amount of money will be spent for overtime? The feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary clinic will take N30,584,144. How many animals are there in the State House that that amount of money will be spent to feed and nourish them in just one year? Do we have a zoo in the State House? Animals in the State House must be very lucky. In fact, they are luckier than many Nigerians because many Nigerians don’t even have food to eat on a daily basis not to talk of food supplements! Let us also look at honorarium and sitting allowance which will cost N107,412,768. One is worried by the provision for the sitting allowance because the employees of the State House were not standing to do their work, rather they were sitting to do their work so what is the sitting allowance for? Are they going to be paid double for doing the same work? Thus, the major reason why governments in this country don’t perform is because of huge recurrent expenditures. Money that supposed to be used for capital projects is wasted on overhead costs and personnel. The leaders must have a rethink in order to make capital expenditure outweigh recurrent expenditure so that the country can grow. This yearly huge recurrent expenditure is definitely not acceptable by Nigerians.