If recent discoveries are anything to go by, Nigerians expecting instant ‘change’ will have to wait awhile as a ‘budget mafia’ in the Federal Government’s bureaucracy are attempting to scuttle innovations introduced into the budget by inflating figures. The Punch reported that the National Assembly has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to institute a high-powered probe panel to investigate the alleged padding of the 2016 budget by some top civil servants.
The ‘budget mafia,’ as alleged by Presidency sources, proposed a budget of N9.7tn for capital spending and overhead, excluding personnel cost, as against the Presidency’s initial total estimate of about N8tn.
Also, the group was said to have proposed N3tn as overhead alone out of the N9.7tn, a figure the Presidency later slashed to N163bn.
According to the source, the mafia was responsible for the controversial provisions in the eventual N6.07tn budget sent to the National Assembly by the Presidency. It added, “These bureaucrats also proposed to spend N2.1trn on personnel for the 2016 estimate compared to about N1.8tn in the 2015 budget.
“But the Presidency also cut this down to N1.7tn in the final estimate sent to the legislature.’’
Meanwhile, the National Assembly demands probe. House of Representatives said top civil servants responsible for the padding should be prosecuted by the EFCC and the ICPC; while the Senate said besides probing the padding, the Minister of National Planning and Budget, Senator Udo Udoma, should also be sanctioned.
As far as the senators are concerned, civil servants alone could not have perpetrated the embarrassing act alone without the connivance and collaboration of the budget office, supervised by Udoma.