The Role of Nigerian National Assembly in the Budget Process

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APRIL, 2009

Table of Contents
1.Executive Summary3
3.Balance of Budgetary Powers5
4.The National Assembly in Nigeria’s Budget Process7
4.1.Legal Framework8
4.2.Institutional capacity10
4.2.1 Effective Appropriation Committee Capacity10
4.2.1 Establishment of a Budget Office10
a. Journey So Far11
b. Challenges11
c. Prospects11
4.3 Political Will of Individual Legislators11
5.Budget Implementation12

1.Executive Summary

The paper seeks to analyse the three identified variables as determining the actual role of the Nigerian legislature in the budget process.

The Nigerian budget process under the military has a history of executive dominance, very poor public expenditure management and lack of accountability and transparency. This provides the background to the emerged democratic budgeting process and ultimately explains the various challenges being faced by the legislature and the public in the process of scrutinising the budgets of the country.

Under military rule, the budget process was mostly characterised by executive dominance, poor financial management, poor implementation, and generally a lack of transparency and accountability.

Since the advent of our recently evolving democratic experience, the expectations are that a new culture of democracy will be institutionalised to ensure that the allocation of public resources is in line with the needs of the population. Amongst the new actors that are now jostling for a voice in budget policy are the country’s National Assembly and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Budget implementation plays a very crucial role in the realization of the primary purpose of government, which is the guarantee of the security and welfare of the people. There is need for a clear departure from the regime of corruption and waste that have been entrenched in the Nigerian public finance system in order for this lofty dream to be attained. This therefore mandates the legislature to push the frontiers of citizens, pro-poor budgeting a step further, by not only reducing some estimates of the executive, but also inserting provisions for developmental projects to be cited in each federal constituency being represented by the legislators.

Sustainability of this new legislative development biased initiative will depend largely on new capacities including innovative legislations to be put in place to ensure proper scrutiny of budget implementation, through its effective monitoring and continuous critical evaluation. 2.Introduction

According to Chief Ken Nnamani, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Senate, the Legislature is a co-manager of the Natural Economy “I have emphasised the importance of a credible legislative framework to complement executive actions for economic development. Economic development is an interaction between culture, insititutions and economic behaviours. This interaction needs to be structured and coordinated in order to achieve the desired result. Law performs this work of coordination. As lawmakers our responsibility is to help provide frameworks that enable high quality coordination of economic activities”

Budget implementation plays a very crucial role in the realization of the primary purpose of government, which is the guarantee of the security and welfare of the people. Capital projects provide government with an opportunity to impact on the lives of the people in a positive way. However, recent experience on the implementation of capital budgets in Nigeria leaves much to be desired with increasing returns of unspent funds to the Treasury year after year. As such, the infrastructure, capital components of education, health, etc of the Federal budget are left unspent while the indicators in the sectors continue their negative...
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