Victor C. Ariole, Ph.D

We thank God that the Auditor-General came out, courageous, to debunk the zero-base budget proclaimed by the government, Even within the press, it was erroneously stated as zero-based. There is nothing like zero-based in accounting. It is zero-base.

However, the clarification of the Auditor General that it is an “Envelope” based budget makes the Senate or House defence procedure quite baseless. In effect the Senate or House ought to know that the budget was not initiated by any of the head of the parastatal they are calling to defend it.

It is mere “envelope” handed to them to manage by the Executive or the Permanent Secretaries in the ministries. Hence the Permanent Secretaries or their Finance heads should be called on to justify the envelope nature of the budget they are “forcing into the throat” of these heads of parastatal. Wasting time to call them to defend it is not human-hour and cost effective for a weak economy.

As announced by the Executive, a budget for 2016 termed zero-base, with a revenue projection that is not zero-base thougth-out as the world would not have started with the current Nigeria government. Indeed, Nigeria needs to start its statehood with either feudalist approach or the bourgeois approach and let the world know how to relate with it. China is known, indirectly, and surreptitiously as state feudalism though it is called communism and it has helped it to emerge a leader, though not among the G8. Saudi Arabia is a feudalist state manned by kings, princes, emirs, sultans, who live by wealth, abundant, in their carved emirates, as they look over some “covert kaffirs” who labour to produce the wealth and receive a token for their labour.

China and Saudi Arabia are still satellite wealth producers for the nations of G8, but they have better approach than Nigeria. The G8 nations are all reasoning and operating the bourgeois principles – that is, to make sure the next generation gets more than they received from their own predecessor, whether by hook or crook. They have carved their own statehood values. Nigeria’s value system is still evolving, agreed; however, it has garnered some “asset and liability” that do not call for zero-base budget. Nigeria is a brand with a goodwill value and the value must appreciate not depreciate. Every government must help to add more value to it. You either run a government that is feudalist engineered or capitalist engineered. We are not Nigeria of the 1960. Something has added and must be made to progress.

Nigeria can only progress if its rulers or governments understand these bi-polar operations and find a way to inculcate a culture in Nigerians for the adoption of any of these principles towards a statehood; or even produce a new viable option. When someone inadvertently, or out of Freudian slip, proclaim a budget as zero-based (sic), it implies that Nigeria is about fashioning out its life; which is not true.

Apart from Colonel Dasuki’s approach to security operations which centered on appeasing the elites with generous and scandalous gifts, the PDP Government seemed bourgeois inclined than the APC government. At least, the cabinet members understood the operations of the G.8 as most of the key members among them are now absolved by the G.8 institutions after the fall of PDP – Ngozi, Adesina, Aruma, Moghalu, Aganga, etc. G8 rule the world and as our naira tumbles, it is clear that Adams Smith “hand of God” nay hand of G8 and their agents-IMF, WTO, WORLD BANK- are intervening. APC seemed a government for either state feudalism or sectional feudalism, and time will tell which one. However, with the announced budget by the president, it is emerging that a section of the Nigerian populace is going to lord it over the others to produce wealth which would either amount to chicken feed, insignificant, in a world dominated by G8. In effect, it must be dawning on Nigerians now that a feudal state is about to set in. A repossession of Nigeria by some feudal minded personalities is about happening.

By the President’s presentation, of N6.08 trillion, Nigeria must think out how to produce over 3.2 million barrels per day to be able to survive at $30 per barrel. The irony is that at over $100 per barrel Nigeria operated a budget that was about half of what the current government is projecting. Why call it zero-base budgeting as if avoiding calling it baseless, conflagration or hyperinflation budget.

Personnel cost is to be reduced and unemployment or underemployment is to be arrested; they are quite issues begging for statehood ideology – bourgeois or feudal ideology? It is also said that private sector would lead in the employment generation and at the same time tax is imposed on companies anyhow, and private investors are disinterested in operating at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Like human beings that stray easily when their belief is hooked on material things that are not worth believing in, so also a country strays when it is hooked on very glaring visible, and tangible materials that suffer wear and tear like crude, in its raw state, and like humans that are mortals. The G.8 that are the champions of the current world have all the “goodies” in material terms but they are not the basis for their budget process.

They make them derivatives of the budget process and keep on harping on tax, either hiked tax or reduced taxes depending on which government the people decided to elect to rule them; Republicans or Conservatives in USA or UK reduce tax and encourage private investment, Democrats or Labour hike tax and encourage social welfare. Nigeria, whether PDP or APC seems to have no value to protect, hence statelessness of mind translated to baseless budget also, that translate to statelessness of a Nigeria; hence chaotic agogo. Zik wanted to be Republican, it was seen as counter to feudalism, Awo wanted to be socialist, it was seen as almajari oriented, Bello wanted to be aristocratic, it was seen as anachronistic. Here we are, PDP emphasized technocratic governance and it was seen as rent-oriented, APC is on, now, with hyper inflated governance that, if not well managed, will send many Nigerians out of the country on brain drain or go seeking for asylum either in other countries or even in psychiatric homes. For now, 100,000 Nigerians are outside seeking asylum, it could jump geometrically, if not attacked now. The experiences of Ghana before Rawlings and, currently, Zimbabwe must be avoided by Nigeria. They were governance approaches claimed to be anti-West, communist or people oriented which were indeed feudalist / totalitarian in different cloaks.

The president must use his charismatic and trusted personality to arrest the statelessness of Nigeria so that, indeed, Nigeria will start a growth process hinged on what he termed zero-base budget, proving, indeed, that Nigeria has just started its existence with him and as the Auditor General said, nothing, either expenses or assets ever existed before this current government. As we know, that could be far from the truth.

– Ariole, Ph.D, is Professor of French and Francophone Studies, UNILAG