We are not going to El Dorado soon, says Buhari’s Budget minder

Ben Akabueze is the Director General, Budget Office of The Federation. The First Class Accountng graduate of the University of Lagos turned Budget expert, has had wide inputs in Nigeria’s Budgets since joining President Muhammadu Buhari Administration in June, 2016.
The man whose analysis on financial issues, cannot be taken for granted, speaks on what to expect from the 2018 Budget and where Nigeria is headed, among others in this exclusive with our reporters, Nasir Agbalaya and Mojeed Oladipupo. They caught up with him on the sideline of ‘Nigeria’s Economic Outlook’ put together by The King’s Court in Lagos. Excerpts from the interview are published here.
We have read and heard a lot about the 2018 budget, what can you tell us about it?
The 2018 budget is anchored fully on the economic recovery and growth plan, which has been acknowledged globally, as a good plan, if Nigeria implements it well over the medium term. It will, over time, ensure economic growth firmly and further our recovery on the right path. 
We are not going to El Dorado by 2020, within this medium term. But if we do the things in that plan and the 2018 budget is fully aligned with it and the right focus and this foundation, inclusive growth is attainable alongside the vision that we have.
Late last year the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTF, was passed. What impact will that have on this current budget, and can it influence its passage?
By law, the Executive is suppose to present a Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTF, to the National Assembly, which they pass by resolution. The MTF forms the basis for the budget. The budget has to be aligned with it. That MTF passed last year is the basis for this 2018 budget.
For instance, the MTF we sent to them (National Assembly) was based on a $42.5 per barrel (for the sale of crude oil) and they changed it to $44.5. We are mandated to alter the budget to reflect that. 
That’s basically the way it impacts. It doesn’t impact the time that they’ll pass the budget. The passage of the budget is dependent on how quickly the lawmakers can work on it.
Infrastructure is one of the main thrust of this government, evidence of which can be seen across the nation. The lawmakers, we understand, added their constituency projects into the budget. Are there any oversight to monitor the execution of these projects?
First of all, the Constituency projects are not supposed to be executed by the lawmakers. They can nominate the projects. Specific agencies of government would execute them. And each of these agencies have internal monitoring; that is project monitoring responsibility.
Beyond them, we have a central monitoring function in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and in the Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the Budget Office. 
These bodies ensure that the projects are executed, according to the specifications agreed upon.

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