The Ministry of Finance has stated that the N206.24 billion for the National Social Safety Net projects assigned to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management was wrongly coded by the Budget Office.
This was disclosed by the finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, on Tuesday before the House Committee on Appropriation.
The committee has been investigating the N206 billion and was visibly angry about the absence of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hajiya Sadiya Farouk.
Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told the committee that the item was wrongly coded by the Budget Office, citing that the minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management should have called the attention of the budget office to the anomaly like her counterparts in other ministries.
“The project was correctly described in the submission in the 2023 budget but unfortunately, the Budget Office used the wrong code,” citing that this resulted in it being captured as “Purchase of Security Equipment” in the budget preparation system.
She added that the budget preparation had a limited range of encoded programme and project descriptions.
She also noted that other ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, and the Federal Ministry of Power, among others, also committed the same error and urged MDA collaboration to remove errors.
Rep. Muktar Betara, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation warned that,
“Most times the committee calls the minister, but she refuses to come. If she is not ready for the job, she should quit,” citing the humanitarian minister’s absence.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Nasir Gwarzo, said,
“The minister said she did not understand the budget code, it was the media that reported the error as padding.
“We did not go to the media refuting the work the committee or the Ministry of Finance have done, but we wrote for clarification which was given.
The amount of money in question was counterpart funding that was given by the World Bank. If it was done without appropriation, Nigerians would not have known what was borrowed,” he said.
For the record: Recall Nairametrics reported last week that the Nigerian Senate summoned the minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, over the insertion of N206 billion into the 2023 budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The minister was summoned by the Senate Committee on Special Duties, chaired by Sen. Yusuf Yusuf on Monday during a meeting with Sadiya Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs on the ministry’s 2023 budget defence.
The humanitarian minister said the money was for projects in 2022, but was not released and now recurring by almost 10 times.