The year 2016 has become one of the most critical moments of economic turbulence ever in the history of Nigeria, and the agriculture sector which contributes about 22% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (after the rebasing of the economy) is therefore seen by many as the strongest sector and potential instrument for stability and sustainability. It is generally deemed as the most equipped for the nation’s required diversification of the economy, import substitution, employment generation (especially among women and youths), poverty reduction and sustainable development. The foregoing was corroborated and highlighted by President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech while presenting the 2016 budget to the Parliamentarians at the National Assembly. Agriculture remains the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, employing over two-third of the nation’s workforce population. There is no doubt that the agriculture sector made the immediate past administration in Nigeria popular. This was made possible through novel policy initiatives, strategies and actions that not only promoted access to inputs to small scale farmers but also focused attention on promoting farming as a serious business. On the 29th of May 2015, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated to lead Nigeria for the next four years, and the Administration came through a slogan of ‘change’ which implies a difference in the running of affairs of the nation including governance at the various levels. According to the ruling party’s manifesto, the ‘change mantra’ is fundamental and provides the anchor for every instrument of governance in order to achieve the required socio-economic development of the country. This becomes very imperative especially in the face of the nation’s recent dwindling revenue. The new Minister of Agriculture had upon resumption also promised to follow through with many of the laudable initiatives of the past administration, and this was commended by many.
Indeed, the budget is therefore seen as the most essential tool to exhibit the direction of government, the proposed investment focus, as well as the direction of planning and allocation of scarce resources for the nation’s development, and consequently becomes the first instrument of change for the administration. Before now, budgets in Nigeria have always allocated ‘extra-large’ percentages to recurrent expenses against capital projects, and a large chunk of these recurrent expenses have always found its way to the payment of ‘ghost’ (non-existent) workers as well as frivolous, illegal, and over-bloated line items of overhead. In addition, little or no recognition have always been given to gender issues in planning and budget implementation.