Senate Denies Budget Padding Claim By Buhari, Indicts Finance Ministry

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The budget padding claims made by President Muhammadu Buhari who accused the National Assembly of hugely padding debt figures to be repaid by the Federal Government to some states in the country has been flatly denied.

Denying the claims, Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the upper legislative chamber did not at any time inflate figures in the Promissory Notes request sent to it by the Executive.

The letter by President Buhari to the Senate claimed that National Assembly’s approval for refunds to Delta and Taraba states through the issuance of Promissory Notes for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government, was different from what the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved.

According to Olaniyonu, the reports in the media over the issue, were wrong and must have resulted from misinformation to the President by his aides.

“The Senate would like to clarify that the breakdown which the Executive, through the Ministry of Finance, submitted to the National Assembly showed that the outstanding liability due to Taraba State is N22,254,062,330.08, while that of Delta is N67,982,398,701.28 with the total for the two states at N90,236,461,031.36.

“Therefore, the National Assembly approved the figures submitted to it by the Ministry of Finance as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government. At no time did the Executive forward the figure of N78,601,631,430.16 to us and we do not know where the President got that figure from.

“We have decided to make this clarification in order to set the records straight and disabuse the minds of the general public. We believe the President must have been misinformed and misadvised by his aides while writing the letter he sent on this issue to the National Assembly,” the Senate stated.

President Buhari had specifically accused the National Assembly of raising the debt repayment figure to Delta and Taraba states by N12 billion; from the original N78 billion, to N90 billion.

He also asked the lawmakers to send details of the amounts they approved for the two states, as well as the figures approved for payment by the Federal Executive Council (FEC); when it was sent to the National Assembly for approval.

He said; “I wish to inform the Senate that we have received the approval of the National Assembly via letter referenced NASS/CNA/106/volume11/004, dated January 29, for refunds to Delta and Taraba states; through the issuance of a promissory note for projects executed on behalf of the federal government.

“In view of the approval of the National Assembly, the following was observed: While FEC approved N78 billion (78,601,631,430.16), as reimbursement to Delta and Taraba state governments, National Assembly approved N90 billion (90,236,461,031.36); which is higher than the amount approved by FEC.

“The National Assembly did not approve any reimbursement to Bauchi and Kogi states governments whereas FEC approved reimbursement for them.”

Buhari also reminded the lawmakers of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (2007), which empowers the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve contract.

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