Key questions this article answers:
As president Buhari bows out of office with the highest budget ever, one cannot help but think of how badly the current administration has dealt with the public finances. Given the National Assembly’s responsibilities in deciding how the federal government manages money, shouldn’t they also be liable for Nigeria’s fiscal crisis?
What are the NASS' typical functions in preparing and passing the budgets, and how have they carried out these functions over the past seven years?
Whenever you think of how Nigeria’s finances have deteriorated over the years, you probably mention the following culprits: Muhammadu Buhari, Zainab Ahmed, and Godwin Emefiele.
But there's an even more powerful group of people hiding in plain sight, approving unachievable budgets, and encouraging the federal government’s ministries to continue running the country aground.
That's the Nigerian assembly—the senate and house of representatives. This very powerful group of people have been complicit in the mismanagement of Nigeria's public funds.
The final budget by the administration hit the nail on the coffin with a planned expenditure of ₦21.8 trillion and a ₦10.8 trillion deficit, which is 5% of GDP, higher than the 3% benchmark in the fiscal responsibility act.
Several enablers have made this happen, the chief of which is the National Assembly (NASS) that approved the budget, which will be the focus of this article.
The primary role of the NASS is to pass laws. These laws (called Acts) span