Buhari’s Aide rubbishes him before Senate

By Post Nigeria February 19, 2016 12:37

Buhari’s Aide rubbishes him before Senate

In a shocking twist to the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget before the National Assembly, the  Auditor-General of the Federation, AGF, Samuel Ukura, has informed the Senate that the N6.08 trillion appropriation bill was prepared using an envelope based framework and not zero-based as President Muhammadu Buhari had persistently claimed.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday, February 18, Ukura specifically contradicted the Presidency on the template adopted for details of the budget estimates.

Ukura said the N2.9 billion budget proposal for his office was not arrived at through zero budgeting, but handed over to his office as an envelope by the Ministry of Finance.

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The Buhari-led Federal Government had consistently said that the zero-based budgeting would be carefully coordinated to ensure that it is policy-driven, especially regarding the proposed social intervention policy.

Appearing before the committee, Ukura said: “Budgets of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government this year are all enveloped based and not zero-based as it has been the case over the years, including that of my office, which is even largely done for us by the supervising ministry.”

Reminded by Senators Akpan Albert Bassey (Akwa Ibom Northeast) and Foster Ogola (Bayelsa West), that his submission on the 2016 budget template ran contrary to what Buhari told a joint session of the National Assembly on December 22 last year, the AGF insisted that the budget remained envelope based.

“It is envelope. The zero-based budgeting, they wanted to introduce was not adhered to at the end of the day.

“In zero-based budgeting, it is assumed that such expenditure does not exist, you start from zero and justify why that expenditure must be used.

“So, it is a system which is good and which would have also helped to set targets, but that wasn’t applied at the end of the day, perhaps because it was hurriedly being introduced.

“Budget proposal and by extension, defence, is not about fighting, but discussing on what is made available for one to work with because what they want, they give.”

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However, a source in the office of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning has refuted Ukura’s claim that the 2016 budget was not drawn on the zero-based budgeting process.

“Perhaps he does not know what it entails. But I can assure that the Budget Office drew up the 2016 Appropriation Bill using zero-based budgeting.”

Speaking further, he said that the Auditor-General does not even work in the Budget Office of the Federation and wondered how he could have spoken on behalf of the office.

He recalled, that once the federal government decided to transit from the envelop system to the zero-based budgeting system, consultants were hired by the federal government and conducted extensive training programmes for officials in the Budget Office and Directors of Finance in the MDAs.

“The training sessions took place even before the federal cabinet was sworn in and a template produced for all the MDAs to follow, so how can the Auditor-General now say that the zero-based budgeting system was not used for the Appropriation Bill. Did he not go for the training; maybe he did not understand it.

The source added: “Perhaps the auditor-general was referring only to the budget of his own office and not the entire 2016 budget,”

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