Umar Farouq, the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, on Monday, November 21, 2022, distanced herself from the N206 billion inserted into her Ministry’s 2023 Appropriation Bill by the Ministry of Finance.
Farouk appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties to defend 2023 budget proposal at the National Assembly.
She claimed that the Ministry requested for some projects for the North East Development Commission, NEDC, and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget which was not released.
She, however, said the Ministry was surprised that the money inserted, was now ten times of the 2023 proposed budget of the Ministry.
One of the Committee members, Senator Elisha Abbo fired the first salvo at the Minister when he asked her to explain the N206 billion in her Ministry’s budget.
The minister who expressed surprise said, “Yes we made mention of the projects for 2022 which was not released and part of it was part for the NEDC.
“The money was not released and now we have seen it recurring by almost 10 folds we are also going to clarify from the Ministry of Finance to know why this increase despite the fact that the previous year, the money was not even released for the project. So we will get the details and then send to you on that.
“On upscaling of the National Social Safety Net Project. These projects under the National Social Safety Net, the condition cash transfer, the updating of the national social register, and the rapid response register as well to cushion the effect of inflation.
“This is all I can say for this. I cannot really give full details of how this amount is going to be utilised because it is something that was negotiated between the Ministry of Finance and World Bank.”
Abbo who was shocked by the Minister’s response said the country would not continue to borrow money and be plunged into debt.
He said, “This is serious. We cannot continue to borrow money and plunge this country into debt for our children to come and pay without investing in what they will see.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, therefore, moved a motion to summon Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to come and give explanation about the N206 billion inserted in the ministry’s budget.
Yusuf said, “I want to move a motion that the Minister of Finance should appear before this committee to furnish this committee with details of what they intend to do with N206 billion in 2023 budget.
“Now that the Minister has said that she is not in charge of negotiation, of course she is not, the Minister of Finance is responsible.”
Senate Committee Uncovers ‘Mystery’ N10.8 Billion Inserted Into Defence Ministry’s Budget
The Senate Committee on Defence on Thursday, November 17, 2022, uncovered N10.8 billion insertion in the 2023 budget proposal of the Ministry of Defence.
The committee queried the minister, Bashir Magashi, on the issue during the budget defence.
The vice chairman of the committee, Senator Istifanus Gyang, said: “Hon. Minister, in the proposed 2023 budget of your ministry, N8.6 billion is discovered to have been allocated for purchase of military hardware and N2.25 billion for Safe School Initiative.
“The two items, when critically viewed, were not supposed to be in the ministry’s budget since hardware procurements are done by the Army, Navy, and Air Force; and the Safe School Initiative, by the Federal Ministry of Education.
“These, to us, are duplications of budgetary votes which require explanations from you,” he said.
Responding, Magashi sought the permission of the committee for the permanent secretary of the ministry Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, to respond.
Kana said the sums were inserted into the ministry‘s budget by the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.
“We didn’t initiate it. We didn’t include it. From our consultations, we found out that it’s from the finance ministry.
“We found out that these projects have been with the Ministry of Education and they now realised that they should actually be under the Ministry of Defence because they’re products of insurgency and therefore the defence ministry is better positioned to do the job compared to the education ministry. I don’t think there’s any duplication,” he said.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, said the insertion would be expunged from the ministry’s budget.