By Shola Akingboye, Abuja
Against the backdrop of mounting criticisms of the 2016 Appropriation Bill that it was fraught with certain inconsistencies and irregularities, the Presidency has stated that it will accommodate genuine criticism of actions and inactions as long as they would add value to the generality of Nigerians.
Reacting to the mounting criticism over some controversial allocation in the 2016 Appropriation Bill currently being debated by the National Assembly, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement that criticism was imperative if the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will achieve the change promised Nigerian.
Beside the National Assembly the budget document is in the website of the budget office and Nigerians who are interested can read it with a view of making observations, Shehu noted.
However, in what is his second response to a report by some media that the 2016 budget proposal, currently being debated at the National Assembly, allocated more funds for capital projects at the State House Medical Centre than all teaching hospitals in the country, he debunk that position, saying that the budget office confirmed that more money was allocated to the teaching hospitals than the State House hospital.
“In reaction to a newspaper story that said: “2016 Budget: Buhari to spend more on State House Clinic than on all federal government-owned teaching hospitals,” the Budget Office supplied a summary of the allocations to the various sectors under the Ministry of Health, which showed clearly that the published story was inaccurate. The budget office has affirmed that in terms of both capital and recurrent allocations, the draft budget has put far more money in the 17 teaching hospitals than it did in the State House Clinic,” he said.
Just like we stated in our story, we maintain that the presidency proposed to spend more on capital projects at the State House clinic than it proposed to spend in all teaching hospitals combined.
In the statement, Mr. Shehu admitted that the budget may contain some imperfection and that the government is open to corrections from Nigerian.
“We are not by any stretch of imagination suggesting that the draft budget is beyond comments or reproach. Nor do we wish to dwell on this simply to make a point.
“To do that will drive away good citizens from pointing out needed corrections and, ultimately defeating the change mantra of the administration,” he said.
“The budget is a Nigerian budget and citizens reserve the right to examine its content and provide their own perspectives.
“As the draft goes through the approval process, this and many other aspects will continue to generate interest, criticism, commendation and sometimes condemnation in discussions in the parliament, the media and the court of public opinion. We believe that the process of “change” will be affected by, and stands to gain from these debates especially where there is good faith on all sides.
“Government has no reason whatsoever to mislead the citizens on the budget and on all other matters for whatever reason,” he added.