Budget Padding: Two Ministers, Top Aides Risk Sack

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Angry Buhari Orders Compilation Of Culprits’ List

Two of President Muhammadu Buhari’s most trusted ministers and two of his closest aides may be at the receiving end of the investigations into the padding of the 2016 Budget, which the President confessed has caused his Government and the nation embarrassments.
Investigations reveal that, President Buhari was particularly irked with one of his ministers, whose ministry is being earmarked as arrowhead of the planned massive infrastructural development, on the discovery that, the said minister padded the budget for projects in his geopolitical area, while allocating paltry sums to others outside his place.
Our findings reveal that, the actual padding was carried out by consultants, hired to review submissions by the various Ministries and extra ministerial departments. This could be why the other minister who consented to the hiring of a consultant to review the budget may be in trouble.
While attention is being focused on civil servants, who people believe were the brains behind the act, findings reveal that there are bigger hands in the mess. As it is, the President, sources told us, may have already directed permanent secretaries in the affected ministries not to cooperate with the embattled ministers, whose jobs may be on the line, despite their closeness to the President.
This is even as a very angry President Muhammadu Buhari, has ordered security operatives to fish out all involved in the embarrassing padding of the 2016 budget before his returns to the country, after his seven-day official trip to the middle east.
The president who only last week in Saudi Arabia, made a pledge to punish all who are behind the budget scam, nationalTRAIL learnt has given a marching order to security agents, especially those in investigation to ensure that upon his return to the country, there should be details for immediate immediate.
Following the presidential directive, sources told our correspondent that plain clothes detectives have been working round the clock just to unravel the budget padding mystery, already the Budget department, ministries, and many agencies have been under security searchlight, and have also been visited by the agents, with the view to unmasking those behind the crime.
“The president is very angry, and he has given directive that names all those involved in the scam should be made available to him, as soon as he is back to Abuja.
“He will not spare anyone found wanting in this crime of altering figures of a budget to the National Assembly for passage, and the whole nation
As it is right now, there are panic within these MDAs, because many heads may roll over this singular act figures to the original budget proposals, presented by Buhari to the National Assembly, by officials believed to be opposed to the zero-based budget system adopted by the President to cut costs and boost capital expenditure to 30 percent. Those who altered the budget were said to have opted for the “envelope system”, which arbitrarily allocates a fixed but unrealistic sum to each unit, sometimes higher or lower than what is actually required. The detectives were said to have been scanning the initial documents used for the 2016 Budget and comparing them with the “padded budget documents”, which caused a spat between the Presidency and the National Assembly. A source in one of the ministries, where the detectives were sighted, pointed out that the men had been examining documents for two days running. “For two days, the detectives have been working in the Budget Department but we do not really know what exactly they picked out”, a top official in the Planning Ministry said. “But the detectives did not molest any of the staff of the ministry. They went straight to look at the records and began to input data into their own computers”. Already, Buhari has fired the Director of Budget and appointed a new one while moving the Budget Department from the Finance Ministry to National Planning. Some of the Budget Department officials, who were moved to other MDAs, were also being questioned by the detectives. Last week, in far away Saudi Arabia, Buhari exploded, while addressing the Nigerian community, and vowed to severely punish those who cooked the budget to embarrass his government. The budget row between the Presidency and the NASS has, however, been thawed, raising hope it could be passed as early as next month.

By Matthew OMEJE, Abuja