The Federal Government yesterday clarified that the 2016 budget signed by President Muhammadu Buhari was not padded.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma who stated this in Abuja at a town hall meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture for the Alumni Association of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, near Jos, said the Presidency has no issue with the budget that was assented to.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang agreed with the Minister.
Emerging from the national leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) at the party’s headquarters in Abuja, after a three-hour grilling, Enang insisted that the budget passed and assented to by Mr President was the same budget being executed.
Fielding questions from participants on the budget padding controversy, Udoma explained that he was not in the National Assembly to know what transpired, but assured that efforts were on to involve more Nigerians; interest groups especially the civil society organisations in budget preparations to ensure that Nigeria got a people’s budget.
“There were comments about corruption, budget padding and so on. I will like to explain the process of our interaction with the National Assembly in terms of the budget; when the Executive finishes with the budget, it is taken to the National Assembly; the National Assembly processes the budget, then they invite us to explain what we have done, after this they send it back to the Executive; if we are satisfied with it the president signs it, and if we are not, we ask them to look at the document again. In this case, we were not satisfied and for the reasons we had given at the time, we asked them to look at the document again. And when they finished, they now sent it back and it was a better document and the president was able to sign,” he stated.
Senator Udoma disclosed that the 2017 Budget would be submitted to the National Assembly by October.
He pointed out that the early preparation and submission of the budget to the National Assembly would ensure the inclusion of every detail as well as ensure that there would be no reason for undue pressure and also to avoid the issue of delay in the presentation and implementation of the budget.
He stated that, the government of President Buhari is using the 2016 budget to get the Nigerian economy back on stream
He revealed that government had already released N331.5 billion as part of capital allocation of the 2016 budget to key ministries covering sectors that will turn around the economy.
The ministries including Power, Works and Housing, Defence and Security, Water Resources, Transportation, Agriculture and Niger Delta.
Senator Enang who was in company with Kawu Sumaila, SA to President on National Assembly (Reps) said: “I am here with my colleague on the invitation of the APC party leadership to brief and answer questions on issues raised by the parties on the 2016 Appropriation.”
“We have been with the party leadership for a little over three hours, giving explanations over the issues that there was, to our knowledge, nothing like padding of the budget. The budget as assented to by Mr President is the budget passed by the National Assembly and that is the same budget being executed.
“However, as at now, the party is handling it as a domestic party affair and have enjoined all of us not to make public comments on the detail of it because the matter is still under consideration. We would not want to get into the detail of it so that we won’t breach the ethics or directives of the party or pre-empt the findings of the party,” he argued.
On whether the claim of the presidency that there was no budget padding has rubbished the allegations by Jibril, he replied: “In all our years in the legislature, we are yet to find in the legislative lexicon the word padding.