On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu presented his Budget of Renewed Hope to a joint session of the National Assembly. The move, which saw the nation's leader unveil the sum of N27.5 trillion, provided insight into how he plans to tackle some of Nigeria's most pressing issues.
Given the country's economic woes and the continued free-fall of the naira at the exchange market, Nigerians now look to the 2024 budget in the hopes of heaving a sigh of relief in the coming year.
While food prices continue to soar, the issue of insecurity remains unabated, hampering the effective distribution of agricultural products in certain parts of the north as insurgents lay claims to once-peaceful settlements.
Hoping to provide succour to over 200 million citizens, President Tinubu highlighted some of the key areas he intends to address and how his administration would go about the process.
President Tinubu, in his budget presentation, disclosed that his administration would "ensure effective coordination of fiscal and monetary policy measures, and collaborate with sub-national governments to address structural factors driving inflation in Nigeria".
Some analysts who spoke after the budget presentation believe that the APC-led government aims to use both fiscal and monetary policies to improve the economic output of the nation, with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) having a key role to play.
It is believed that if the mechanisms put in place to tackle inflation are effective enough, then the economy will get the much-needed boost required. But it has been argued also that with the level of inflation in the country, it is not going to be a 'tea-party' for the administration after all.
Another goal of the present administration as spelt out in the budget presentation is to achieve a robust economy where wealth generation, a better environment for investment, and poverty reduction would flourish.
Tinubu said on Wednesday, "The proposed budget seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security."
But there are doubts across the country regarding the intention of the government with regards to tackling poverty. These doubts emanated from the sudden removal of the fuel subsidy without prior notice and palliative by the government.
According to President Tinubu, his government sees defence and security as a top priority.
In the area of security, the nation's leader stated that the internal security architecture would be enhanced to boost law enforcement in order to safeguard lives, property, and investment in different parts of the nation.
"Defence and internal security are accorded top priority. The internal security architecture would be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities and safeguard lives, property and investments across the country," he noted.
But the fear expressed by some Nigerians is that till the budget presentation, insecurity, even in the nation's capital, Abuja has remained all-time high.
Not leaving out the education sector, Tinubu shared his plan for addressing the lingering issues.
He revealed that the implementation of a more sustainable model of tertiary education, which will include the Student Loan Scheme set to come into effect by January 2024 is one of the priorities of the 2024 budget.
"To address long-standing issues in the education sector, a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education will be implemented, including the Student Loan Scheme scheduled to become operational by January 2024," he stated.
But questioning the sincerity of the government in improving the current standard of education, experts have looked at the lingering dispute between the federal government and the Academic Staff Unions of Universities, ASUU. Some believe that unless the issues between the federal government and ASUU are resolved, the standard will remain ever low.
Speaking further, Tinubu shared a breakdown of the N27.5 trillion budget thus; N9.92 trillion as non-debt recurrent expenditure, N8.25 trillion earmarked for debt servicing, and N8.7 trillion for capital expenditure.
Expressing his administration's commitment to meeting its debt obligations, Tinubu said the budget deficit is projected at N9.18 trillion in 2024 and disclosed how it would be financed.
"The deficit will be financed by new borrowings totalling N7.8 trillion, N298.49 billion from Privatization Proceeds and N1.05 trillion drawdown on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific development projects", Tinubu revealed.
In his closing remarks, the President said he was confident in the budgetary allocations and directives as they would "set Nigeria on a transformative path towards a sustainable and resilient energy future, fostering economic growth, job creation, and environmental preservation".
A former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, has expressed contrary views, explaining why the Renewed Hope budget would amount to nothing.
Suswam elaborated that the budget implementation would be difficult because it contains a N17 trillion deficit. He said the budget was prepared by unintelligent people in power who lacked leadership skills.
The former governor spoke while addressing 25 fellows of the Emerging Political Leaders Fellowship on Wednesday.
“I was looking at the budget, out of the whole money in that budget, the deficit is N17 trillion. Because you have N9 trillion of deficit, N8 trillion of debt service, then you have N2.7 trillion of tax expenditure, that is a waiver.
“So the entire money, the N27 trillion budget is not implementable. Do you know why we have that? Because we have people in leadership with no intellectual content."
Recall that the bill scaled second reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday.