Journalism of Courage

Budget padding: Finance Minister Ahmed under fire, three ministers accuse her of inserting N206bn in 2023 budget

…the federal government is studying the revelations and will do what is necessary to address it, says Justice Minister

 “The padding was done in the Ministries of Health, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development as well as Defence’’

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, is now under fire over alleged padding of the 2023 budgets of some federal ministries and departments to the tune of  N206 billion.

The padding was done in the Ministries of Health, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development as well as Defence.

So far, the Ministers of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, Humanitarian Affairs, Ms Sadiya Farouq, and Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, have spilled the beans, accusing the Finance Minister of committing serious fraud.

Persecondnews reports that while Magashi told the Senate that Ahmed inserted about N11 billion in the 2023 budget, Ehanire also accused her of padding his ministry’s budget.

Farouq disclosed that her ministry equally discovered about N200 billion spuriously included in their budget estimates.

Farouq had exposed the graft on Monday when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties to defend the 2023 budget.

According to her, her ministry requested for funds for some projects in the North-east Development Commission and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget, but was not released.

“I was surprised to see an inflated amount in the 2023 budget of our ministry.’’

Reacting to the grave allegations, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) described it as worrisome with a promise of “fighting the corrupt practices’’ between the lawmakers and the ministries, departments and agencies of government.

“The federal government is studying the revelations and will do what is necessary to address it.

“Which ever way one looks at it, budget padding is bad because if you budget N5 billion for road and N3 billion of that fund is diverted, it means government has lost that money and it will take a longer period to complete the project.

“The government is concerned and will do what is necessary to address the issue,’’ Malami said while briefing State House correspondent after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

On Abacha loot, the minister said a whooping $1 billion looted funds have so far been recovered from several countries from 2015 to 2022.

The recovered monies in dollars and pound sterling had been invested in the various sectors of the economy including poverty alleviation, according to Malami.

He said before 2015 only 109 convictions were recorded but the Buhari administration had convicted over 3,000 offenders with about $1 billion recovered to date.

To further give the government’s anti-corruption war a fillip, Malami said the Federal Executive Council has approved validation extension of the Anti-corruption Strategy Document 2022 to 2026, a new policy developed from cooperation among the various agencies.

 

 

 

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