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Farouq demands minister’s clarification of budget padding allegation

 The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, has said that she had written to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning for clarification on the N206billion slated for security weapons in her ministry’s 2023 budget.

Faroq made this known when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Special duties on Thursday.

She clarified that at no point did she claim that the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed,  padded the budget but she had a lot to explain on why the purchase of security weapons was included in the budget of the humanitarian ministry.

She said, “I want to state that the last time we were here and this issue was raised, we never mentioned budget padding, but we need to clarify with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the issue of the N206bn that was raised.

  We have written to them but we are still waiting for a formal response from the ministry.”

She added, “I will ask that we wait until we get a formal response from the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the said amount under contention.

“I wish they were here today so that we can listen to them. On the N206bn, when we saw it, we didn’t understand it. The money came under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs but was budgeted for the purchase of security equipment. An explanation needs to be made and that was why I said that I won’t be able to say anything on the issue until the minister is able to provide us with explanations.

  “We need clarity and that is why we asked the minister to provide an explanation to us.”

In the course of the meeting, the senator representing Anambra Central, Uche Ekwenife, asked if the ministry got anything from the N30bn that was injected into the 2022 budget by the finance ministry, but Faroq explained that her ministry got no money from it.

She said, “No kobo was released to our ministry out of the N30bn and not any of the agencies under the ministry got any.

Faroq was also asked if both ministers had met to discuss the issue but she said no, stressing that she was awaiting the formal response from Ahmed

 She said, “The minister of finance and I have not met but the accounting officers have both met. We were invited by the House Committee on Appropriation, but I couldn’t attend because I was indisposed. She provided some explanations and gave some documents but it’s not my job to speak to it.

“I wanted her to be here for her to give answers to the monies that are yet to be accounted for.”

Senator Ekwenife then asked if the ministry made any request for N206bn under a different narration, but the minister was silent on the question.

 She simply said, “No, not exactly.”

Also, a Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Sani Gwazo, said they would not want to join issues by dragging anyone, but it was important to clarify the issue because their integrity was at stake.

Gwazo said, “In as much as we would not like to be dragged into discussing details because it was agreed that the minister of finance and humanitarian would meet here to discuss the issue, I want to caution on certain terms that are being used that can result in another case of controversy.  This issue affects our credibility and integrity.

“The word that was used by a senator here the last time was what sparked all this controversy and should not be associated or linked to the minister of humanitarian ministry.

“If I have to explain how the money came into the appropriation, I will have to provide details that are supposed to be given by the ministry of finance and I don’t want to put words into their mouth.”

He further clarified that appropriation encompassed both money from the Federal Government for direct ministry utilisation and money envisaged for a bilateral project.

The committee Chairman, Yusuf Yusuf, said the Senate was not trying to witch-hunt anyone but needed clarifications from both ends.

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