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Budget padding allegation: Ministry of Finance exonerated

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr. Nasir Gwarzo, has exonerated the Minister of Finance over budget padding allegations.

Dr Gwarzo made the clarification during an investigative hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation on the alleged N206 billion insertion in the budget of the ministry of humanitarian affairs.

He stated that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs never accused the Finance Minister of padding their budget but was wrongly report by the media.

The Permanent Secretary also refuted the allegation that the humanitarian ministry had convened a press briefing challenging the authenticity of what the finance Ministry have done.

“The Minister of Humanitarian affairs was asked a question and when she looked at the code, she said she did not understand that she would get clarification. The chairman obliged that more clarification would be brought and the matter was closed.

“One of the members in his summary, insinuated that there is padding and that is what the press took. So the minister of Humanitarian affairs never mentioned the issue of padding, she requested for time to correct this mistake that she observed.”

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, explained that there was an error in the budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs as figure captured in the budget proposal of the ministry was wrongly coded by the Budget Office.

Dr. Zainab Ahmed explained that the N206 billion alleged insertion which had generated serious reaction within the week was for the National Social Safety Nets Project funded by the world bank and domiciled in the projects of the humanitarian ministry.

She noted that the wrong coding resulted in the item being wrongly captured as purchase of security equipment” but that it had nothing to do with Budget padding but an oversight.

According to her, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management should have called the attention of the budget office to the anomaly like her counterparts in other ministries.

She disclosed that the Ministry of Defence, and Federal Ministry of Power also committed the same error.

The Minister called for collaboration amongst government ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs to forestall such oversight.

The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Aliyu Betera, expressed the displeasure of the committee over the refusal of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to appear before it when summoned.

Mr. Betara ruled that the humanitarian minister must appear and defend the ministry’s budget.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade and Annabel Nwachukwu