I Have Not Resigned And I Won’t Resign, Says Budget Office Boss
THE Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mallam Aliyu Yahaya Gusau, under whose watch the country has produced its worst fiscal spending plan in recent years yesterday denied rumours making the rounds that he had thrown in the towel.
“I am here to stay. I have not resigned and I won’t resign. The rumor making the rounds is the handiwork of mischief markers who want me out at all cost,” Gusau declared through his Media Assistant, Mr. Afolabi Olajuwon.
Earlier, several calls to his mobile number by The Guardian were unanswered, fueling suspicion that the rumoured resignation by the Zamfara-born technocrat might be true until he spoke through his aide.
This year’s N6.08 trillion federal budget still before the National Assembly is fraught with allegations of padding and duplication of line items, with ministers defending their budgets before the National Assembly members expressing shock at certain sums and projects smuggled into their budgets without their approval, a development that one top Presidency officials described as the handiwork of a “mafia” that has hijacked the plan to smuggle in huge sums of money to line their pockets.
Gusau was appointed to the position on August 18, last year, following the sack of Dr. Bright Okogu, whose tenure was yet to elapse by at least six months for a term of four years renewable for another four years.
Before his appointment, Gusau was the director, Fiscal Policy, Budget Monitoring and Evaluation and was also acting director general of the Budget Office at the exit of Okogu.
It is still unclear how the “mafia” intended to siphon the sums smuggled into the budget, but the highly placed senior Presidency official said the “mafia” is a made up of a syndicate operating within the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
Members of the National Assembly have equally been expressing shock at certain line items in the budget, such as rent for the Aso Rock Villa; provision for staff quarters in the Ministry of Works and Housing, when the federal government has since been implementing a monetisation policy; and several other inexplicable provisions in the budget.
Also in the budget, a whopping N224.5 billion, with no clearly defined spending head, has been proposed as miscellany sum, though the word ‘miscellaneous’ is this time around carefully avoided and supplanted with three variant terms, namely capital exigency, contingency and special intervention.
The breakdown of the miscellaneous sum, as gleaned by The Guardian from the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly, indicates that the sum of N200 billion is to be expended under the spending line item of “FGN Special Intervention Programme.”
Another sum of N12.5 billion is assigned as “Capital Exigency,” while the third allocation of N12 billion expenditure is termed “Capital Contingency.”
However, Gusau told The Guardian yesterday that there was no need for alarm, as the sums assigned to the three subheads were carefully planned to tackle specific areas.
He stated: “The Federal Government’s Special Intervention Fund has two components of Capital and Recurrence, and is meant to address the social welfare needs of the down-trodden in society and would be used for the purchase of training equipment for graduate interns, as well as for the school feeding programme.
“These provision really are contribution for the poor. There is no anomaly about the provisions.” The development has forced the National Assembly to indefinitely shift the passage of the fiscal plan from the earlier planned February 25 to enable both arms take a closer look at the plan and expunge the excesses.
The Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning has come out to confirm that there indeed exist a mafia, which has hijacked the budget process and apologised to Nigerians, declaring that it has commenced investigation into the malfeasance.
The development is contained in a statement yesterday by the Director of Information in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Charles Dafe, who hinted that those identified would be seriously sanctioned, because the ministry has zero tolerance for malfeasance.
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, on Monday expressed shock when he appeared before the National Assembly to defend the ministry’s budget, telling the legislators that the ministry’s budgetary estimate before them was completely different from what his ministry had prepared and presented to the Budget Ministry.