By Sadiq Umar – The last is yet to be heard of allegation of dubious provisions in the 2016 budget currently before the Senate, as Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed disowning N398million voted for the purchase of computers in his ministry.
The Senate and House of Representatives had on Tuesday put on hold their earlier plan to pass the budget by the end February, stressing the need for a more thorough work on the 2016 Appropriation bill in view of discovery of dubious provisions in the budget.
At the budget defence session with Senate committee Wednesday, another shocking revelation emerged on the alleged “budget padding” with Mr. Mohammed, saying he knew nothing about a whopping N398million voted for purchase of computers.
In reaction to questions regarding the N230 million and N168 million voted for the purchase of computers for the News Agency of Nigeria and the Film and Video Censors Board, the minister said. “No, that is not possible. That was definitely not what was proposed, this cannot be.”
When an official of the ministry noted that N5m (five million) was what was proposed for the item in the original budget of the NFVCB, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe said, “the difference between N5million and N168m is huge.”
Managing Director of NAN, Ima Niboro also expressed surprise about the N230m for the purchase of the same item as captured under “Capital Votes” in the 2016 budget of NAN.
Recall that yesterday (Tuesday), the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole alleged that original budget of his ministry had been distorted and strange figures “smuggled” in adding that N15.7 billion for capital allocation has been moved to other areas.
“We have to look into the details of the budget and re-submit it to the committee. This was not what we submitted. We ‘ll submit another one. We don’t want anything foreign to creep into that budget. What we submitted is not there.” The minister stated.
Similarly, last week, the Senate Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) uncovered a N10billion hidden in the budgets of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Education which the officials were unable to properly explain but begged the committee to allow them to go back to rework the figures.