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Budget Office denies allocating N27 billion for National Assembly renovation

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Nigeria’s Budget Office on Thursday denied allocating N27 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.

“The provision for renovation/retrofitting of the National Assembly (NASS) Complex in the revised budget is N9.25bn, not N27bn as being bandied around,” director-general for the budget office Ben Akabueze said in a statement.

“The initial provision of N37bn in the 2020 Appropriation Act for this was cut by 75% due to the impact of Covid-19 on government revenues.”

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Akabueze’s statement was in reaction to media reports that said the Nigerian Government approved N27 billion to renovate the National Assembly.

The reports drew wide criticisms from the citizens who highlighted other things that deserved such spending. Many of them alleged that it was another plot by the executive and legislature to siphon public funds.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and the National Assembly’s leadership headed by Ahmad Lawan for reportedly approving the renovation plan and called for a national protest.

The rights group said the approval of N27 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly’s complex is criminal, misplaced, dubious, and is a bribe for the Senate and the House of Representatives to continue to remain docile and subservient to the whims and caprices of the lawless executive arm of government.

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Asides the reported fund to renovate the complex, education, and basic healthcare budgets were also reportedly slashed by the government.

But contrary to the reports, Akabueze said education and basic healthcare budgets were only adjusted to fit the one percent of the consolidated revenue fund as stipulated by the law.

“Statutory transfers to UBEC (Basic Education) and BHCPF (Basic Health) are set by LAW at 2% and 1% respectively of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Therefore, when the Covid-19 pandemic eroded the CRF, the budgetary provisions were automatically adjusted in accordance with the applicable laws,” Akabueze said.


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