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The budget as a weapon of blackmail

We should be familiar with the plot by now. At the convocation of the executhief, Naija bureaucrats’ slovenly dust off last year’s files, sprinkle a few new spices to the mix and a budget is heading to the harmonisation committee. Nobody adds being a member of the budget committee to his or her resume. It’s not a bragging right. 

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The people for whom the budget is meant have no say in it. Evil servants pad it with subheads including salaries, allowances and emoluments for work hardly done reward for indolence. Economists call this overhead costs and it features under recurrent expenditure because it comes every season. Of course, evil servants are those who begged to apply but have to be constantly begged to perform yet expect to be promoted. 

In the evil service, people hardly retire as and when due. Its an open secret that they find magical ways of getting younger that has nothing to do with the unverified claims of the fake vitamins and bogus supplements that they consume. It is true that we who complain about the injustices of the world and sing expectantly about heaven or jannat do everything we can to delay our departure there. Supplements have proven to be ineffective in hiding grey hairs or slowing down the ageing process. Not having much faith in their efficacy, evil servant head to the courts and perjure their way to the commissioner of oaths from where they emerge years younger.

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Budgets are bloated because civil servants are literal old soldiers – they do not die. A Rivers State monarch recently exposed a known secret, that some evil servants keep dead people on the nominal role, collecting and sharing their salaries and sometimes their entitlements. This is why we should spare a kind thought for Muhammadu Buhari who recruited dead men and women into his last board appointments. The Naira may be struggling on earth, apparently it has value in the realm of the dead; they spend it in Naija purgatory. 

In other budgetary subheads, you might find money set aside for typewriter ribbons even in departments acknowledging that Bill Gates and his friends have sent the invention of the four Milwaukee boys to the museum of antiquity. Budgets are made for wonders! For instance, the executive arm is good at recycling; it is taboo for them to use the same cutleries for two consecutive years. Since the rest of us pick their feeding tab, their expensive shit blocks the drains bloating the budgetary allocation for cleaning clogged lavatories. It is well known that the indigenisation policy of making cassava bread has led to executhief constipation. Those unfamiliar with these things often make mountains of the molehills of presidential health retreats. 

Unchecked constipation leads to other medical disorders necessitating prolonged overseas medical evaluations. While the chief servant is away, it is essential that other Villa occupants oil the bureaucracy hence the need for more budgetary allocation for Aso Clinic than all the teaching hospitals in the nation combined. Wailers don’t understand the principle of cause and effect.

At the legislathief arm, things get high wired. Legislooters must get new cars and prepare for eventualities in election years. So, while being chauffeur driven, they make provisions for their constituents to get okada, pepper grinding machines and even transistor radios. Wheelbarrows, shayi and shoeshine boxes are exclusive to state executhieves and only trouble making legislooters cross that line.  

This year 2018, our smart legislathieves slashed down on important road projects such as the now jinxed Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Eastern road including the 3rd Niger Bridge. That way, the donation of Bajaj motorcycles would have more electioneering effects even as the legislooters dig into the archives of the Awo school of political superiority to purchase helicopters for their campaigns. 

With courts always putting asunder what rigged or wuruwuru and magumagu polls have legalised, the legislathieves have finally tampered with the financial votes of the third arm of government – the judisharing, cutting off their financial autonomy according to initial revelations from Sai Baba. The president says he is reluctantly signing the paper that returned to him as budget since it has no semblance to what he sent in. Well, Sai Baba has no university experience. He is unaware of a familiar phenomenon in newsrooms. Every scholar knows that a project is a proposal and that teachers reserve the rights to add, subtract or reject substandard scripts or ones lacking in depth of research. 

In newsrooms, reporters know that a report is not perfect until several line editors have left their imprints on it. Many a script returns to sender not bearing any semblance to the original writer’s imprimatur. Good reporters are like good lawyers before a court of law. When the lawyer has presented his case and the judge has made her ruling, the good lawyer responds with the now familiar refrain – as the court pleases! 

The way I see this whole thing – budgets could be a weapon for cheap blackmail. No arm of government has a monopoly of the weapons of blackmail.

 

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