Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The power of the bureaucrat

We all know that the executive cannot sit down with a simple program and create a budget for the coming year. The executive has to rely on bureaucrats in the "budget" office and all the other ministries to provide expertise and accurate estimates of income and costs.

What happens if the bureaucrats have agendas of their own? In the British model, the bureaucrats are supposed to pretty much be the tools of the elected government. Of course, even in the United Kingdom, top bureaucrats influence budgets and policy. In Nigeria, bureaucrats have long held even greater influence.

President Buhari suspects that influence has led to overspending and corruption. He may now have some evidence.

Top Civil Servants May Be Fired For Sabotaging President Buhari’s Budget
SaharaReporters has learned that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was considering firing several top civil servants who acted in various ways to sabotage or undermine the government’s efforts to produce budget proposals that reflected financial prudence and frugality. Two top administration sources told our correspondent that “bureaucratic resistance and entrenched systemic corrupt practices dogged every move by the Presidency during the preparation of the 2016 budget”…

One source stated that, after learning that the Presidency was considering a large budget of possibly N8 trillion in order to significantly increase capital expenditure, some bureaucrats jacked up the budget proposal to N9.7 trillion for overhead and capital spending…

According to our source, President Buhari found the bureaucrats’ games infuriating, but decided to maintain his cool in order to meet the deadline for presentation of the budget in line with the laws and regulations governing the budget process. “While Mr. President has always stood for prudence and against waste, the bureaucrats were sneaking in controversial provisions that clearly didn’t represent the president’s standards and priorities,” said our source…

Our sources disclosed that many of the controversial provisions in the budget were essentially smuggled in by what one of them described as “the budget mafia in the civil service, made up of people who consider the period of budgeting as their time of massive opportunity to arrange the stealing of public funds.”…

The source added, “Some people were so bent on exploiting the system that the time was simply not sufficient to stop them. But since the budget is only an estimate, the implementation part now offers the Presidency the opportunity to tame the corrupt intentions and practices.”…

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