Do you know that Christmas celebration is not just about the birth of Jesus? Are you aware that so many other things are wrapped with it? Do you know that Christmas has become a festival of sort , in our world, a cultural, political and economic festival? Do you know that we have invented our own brand of Christmas during which time we celebrate our Cultural Days?
Do you know that the new fad to celebrate Oroki Day, Iwude Day and all other days dedicated in December for cultural revival and bonding are our own new ways of marking Christmas? We all celebrate Christmas.
Are you aware that Governments, too, celebrate Christmas? Apart from giving gifts to some people for political patronage, do you know that government celebrates Christmas season by presenting its budget before the legislature for scrutiny?
Do you know that there is enough to share if only we care? Do you know that we must care as an object of worship, by our government budget? Do you know that Mr Gboyega Oyetola has started very well by providing free train services for mass transit of people from Lagos to Osogbo in the spirit of Christmas celebration?
Do you know that this week, Mr Gboyega Oyetola will present the maiden edition of the budget for his administration to the House of Assembly as an article of faith? What is budget?
Should its performance be a liability of just the government or a shared responsibility with the people? You care? Come along, please.
The words of Norman W. Brooks, in his poem titled : “Let Every Day Be Christmas” cut in:
“Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.”
Have you read ‘Julius Caesar’ written by William Shakespeare? Are you aware that his assassinated on his way to the Senate to present his annual budget for approval shows us that some fifth columnists are always lurking in the lounge to thwart the dreams in a budget?
Can you now see that the theatre of the absurd acted by the National Assembly at the occasion of the presentation of the 2019 Appropriation Bill by President Buhari on 19th December, 2018 was not an unusual occurence?
Do you know that Caesar in that drama suffers a cruel fate from his supposed-friends on the day he is to read and get approval to herald new lease of life to the people? Do you know that as we celebrate Christmas, we must care for our Government Budget, too, to determine our collective fate and responsibility? Come long, please.
Do you listen to Christmas carols? Do you buy cards for people at Christmas? Do you enjoy seeing Christmas lights? Do you see children rejoicing as they see Father Christmas dancing, sharing gifts and carrying children to amuse them? Do you know that some of these traditions observed during Christmas had their historical origin from pre- Christian history?
Do you know that as we celebrate Christmas on the 25th December, some other Christians in other climes celebrate Christmas on 7th January? Do you know that there are some countries that do not declare Christmas day as a public holiday?
Do you know that the State of Israel does not declare Christmas as a public holiday? Other countries in which Christmas is not a formal public holiday include: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (excepting Hong Kong and Macau), the Comoros, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, the Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, the Sahrawi Republic, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.
Do you know the symbolism of the traditional colours of Christmas decorations? Do you know that they are red, green, and gold? Do you know that red symbolises the blood of Jesus, green symbolising eternal life and gold symbolising one of the three gifts of the Magi given to baby Jesus as a symbol of royalty? Are you aware that the traditional greeting of “wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”, were statements of the first commercial Christmas card produced by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843?
Do you know that the Christian symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem or a white dove represent both the Holy Spirit and Peace on Earth?
Do you know that ‘Father Christmas’ or ‘Santa Clause’ is traced back to the Dutch Saint Nicholas? Nicholas was a 4th-century Greek bishop of Myra, a city in the Roman province of Lycia, now located in southwest Turkey. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast day, December 6, came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts.
Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop’s attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not.
By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of central and southern Europe. At the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift-donor to the Christ Child and the date of giving gifts changed from 6th December to Christmas Eve.
Do you know that Christmas should be a period of moderation? Are you aware that the Puritans banned Christmas from being celebrated in the 17th century because of linking the period with the consumption of much alcohol, crime wave and unholy conducts?
Do you know that Christmas became a legal holiday in Britain only in 1660? Do you know that the ‘Puritans’ were the ‘ Boko Haram’ of the era fighting ideologically in vain for God? You care to know? Come.
The first Church was the Catholic Church of Rome. Are you aware that Christianity arrived in Britain in the 2nd century during which time southern Britain became part of the Roman Empire?
Do you know that it was in 1534 that King Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome? Why? Simply because he wanted to divorce his wife and the Pope, the head of the Church said:”No”!
The year was 1534. King Henry VIII applied for a decree to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragion. Pope Clement VII, as the consenting authority, declined to uphold the decree. The Pope based his refusal on the fact that the earlier marriage had the blessing of papacy Equally, Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V, might react to such a move, possibly with a devastating war. King Henry VIII wanted to marry Anne Boleyn at all cost.
The dice was cast. , King Henry VIII fired the first salvo against the Pope and the Catholic Church. He appropriated the position of Supreme Head of the Church of England from the Pope to ensure the annulment of his marriage. That gave him the express chance to annul his marriage.
The Pope fired his own salvo as a reprisal. King Henry VIII was excommunicated. In 1536–40, King Henry VIII fired another salvo. This time, he used his position as the King to dissolve all Catholic Monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland. He went desperately further to appropriate their income and disposed of their assets by force and used the proceeds to prosecute wars.
The final straw came when he went ahead to secede from the Catholic Church to form the Church of England.
He retained Catholic practices during his reign. Under his son, King Edward VI, more Protestant-influenced forms of worship were adopted. Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England’s Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647. Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters.
The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many Calvinist clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. You wonder who the ‘Puritans’ were?
The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to “purify” the Church of England. Puritans by definition were dissatisfied with the limited extent of the English Reformation and with the Church of England’s tolerance of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church.
They formed and identified with various religious groups advocating greater purity of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety. Puritans adopted a Reformed theology
from its “Catholic” practices, maintaining that the Church of England was only partially reformed.
Around 1630, the Puritans became a major political force in England and came to power as a result of the First English Civil War (1642–1646). When they were in power, they behaved like the modern day Boko Haram. Puritans began a regime of witch-hunt.
The Salem witch trials of 1692 had a lasting impact on the historical reputation of Puritans. They instigated the judicial proceedings against the accused and comprised the members of the court that convicted and sentenced the accused of witchcraft.
By the time Governor William Phips ended the trials, fourteen women and five men had been hanged as witches in the guise of purifying the faith of the Church of England.
Hurray! Christmas is now a major annual festival to celebrate many things. It is a popular holiday season for billions of people around the world. The first recorded Christmas celebration was in Rome in 336. At a time, it lost its glamour.
It regained its prominence after 800, when Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of Rome on Christmas Day. Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In the Britain, Christmas Day became a bank holiday in 1834 while Boxing Day was added in 1871.
Christmas is typically a peak selling season for retailers in many countries around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate.
The “Christmas shopping season” in the United States starts as early as October. In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11. In the UK and Ireland, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid-November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on.
In the United States, it has been calculated that a quarter of all personal spending takes place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season. As Christmas shopping season is on, do you know that this is the season when most governments will re-kit the economic and social life of the people through an annual budget? Do you know budget is important to government? Come along, please.
Government budget is an annual financial statement presenting the revenues and spending for a financial year of a country. It estimates the anticipated government revenues and government expenditures for the coming financial year.
The year was 1720. Britain suffered a major economic problem popularly called ‘South Sea Bubble’.The financial crises made people to lose confidence in the competence of the government of the day to handle the fiscal policy.
Sir Robert Walpole was the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. He wanted to restore the confidence of the people. He pioneered the modern practice of presenting the government budget to parliament. It was Walpole again that introduced the presentation of the fiscal plans before the parliament to spell out the details of tax regimes to fund the budget.
At first, the initiative provoked a wave of public outrage. Are you aware that the practice of presenting the budget before parliament gained more popularity in the later part of the 18th century? Do you know that George Grenville introduced the Stamp Act in his 1764 budget speech to the House of Commons of Great Britain? Government budget is simply government business of accountability.
Do you know that government budget is of various types? Come along, please.
We have the Union Budget. This is the budget prepared by the federal Government for the country as a whole. We have the State Budget. This is the budget of a State in a country operating a federal system of government. We have a ‘Plan Budget’, a document showing the budgetary provisions for important projects, programmes and schemes included in the development plan of the country.
We have ‘Performance Budget’. This is the budget of Ministries and Departments dealing with development activities. Such budget is prepared to show the trajectory of performance to a supervising authority. It is called budget of achievements.
We have ‘Supplementary Budget’ as a make-up budget to augment the deficiency or unforeseen contingency in the main budget. We have ‘Zero-Based Budget’, a budget that requires each ministry/department to justify its entire budget in detail.
Do you know that the common elements of a budget are simply two? They are: revenues and expenditures. Revenues are derived primarily from taxes while Government expenditures include spendings on capital, recurrent and services.
Do you know that government budget is not totally designed to allocate scarce resources for the best economic use? It takes into account economic, political and technical considerations. Do you know that Government budget can be of three types? We ‘Balanced Budget’.
This is when government receipts are equal to the government expenditure. Deficit Budget occurs when government expenditure exceeds government receipts. Surplus Budget occurs when government receipts are more than expenditure.
It is strategic for government to have budget for planning, integrating fiscal policy, allocating resources, measuring the growth of Gross Domestic Product, promoting accountability, eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in distribution of income.
Do you know that the Constitutional Economists argue that the more transparent a budget is, the less the rate of corruption? Do you know that the transparency of a budget is determined by the degree of its inclusiveness of the entire people, particularly the vulnerable groups in the society?
Hurray! President Buhari presented the 2019 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly on 19th December, 2019. Do you care about the budget size? Are you aware that the proposed estimate is N8.83 trillion ($25 billion or $29 billion depending on your choice of exchange rate)? Have you checked the details? Do you know that we owe our country a duty to so do?
Are you aware that a quarter of the sum (N2.14 trillion) will be used for debt servicing? Do you know that Capital expenditure is expected to gulp N2.031 trillion? Do you know that the proposed recurrent expenditure is N4.04 trillion?
Are you aware that Statutory transfer is N492.36 billion? Do you know that the Sinking fund is N120 billion? Have you learnt that Capital expenditure is N2.031 trillion? Do you know that the budget was prepared on the assumption of $60 per barrel with crude oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day? Do you know that the exchange rate is assumed at N305 to $1? Do you know that our real GDP growth is assumed to be 3.01 per cent?
Do you know that our inflation rate is assumed to be only 9.98 per cent? Are you aware that economic experts have disagreed over the decision of the federal government to retain $60 per barrel as its crude oil price benchmark for budget 2019 in spite of recent slide in crude oil price below $60 per barrel?
Do you know that the retention of $60 per barrel is ambitious and poses a major risk to projections for the year as current data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, shows that oil prices are trending down at $59.96p/bl on 29th November from $88p/blin October, 2018?
Do you know that the 2019-2021 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, benchmark of $60p/bl may be a farce in the face of oil market volatility and restiveness in the oil corridors in our country? Can Nigeria stop Saudi Arabia from saturating the market when it so decides to force down the price of crude oil in the market? Are we at all in the race to add value to our oil export to make it competitive? Do you know that these are the thoughts that must occupy our minds at Christmas?
Hurray! Mr Gboyega Oyetola is to present his maiden budget to the House of Assembly on Thursday 27th December, 2018.
The budget is to make life more-abundant for all the people of the State. It is a budget of continuity of all the social protection programmes to lift all the poor from poverty. It is a budget to jump-start agriculture, promote gainful employment, encourage investors to promote industrialization and to herald security of life and property in our dear State.
Do you know that making a budget work is a collective responsibility? Yes. The bulk of government revenues is to be generated from tax. Taxes are to be paid by the people. This is a duty we owe to our country and State. We cannot be tired of paying taxes and still expect miracles in our development.
Mr Gboyega Oyetola has brought robust programmes of continuity to promote the security and welfare of all residents of our State. The words of Norman of Norman W. Brooks cut in again: “Let Every Day Be Christmas”