- … President Buhari presented to NASS N8.612tr budget on Nov. 7, 2017
- …Budget defended by DG Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze
- … N1.1b for cleaning, fumigating Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
- … N2.2b to control social media through DSS under (Social Media Mining Suite)
- … N4.9b for annual maintenance of mechanical/electrical equipment in Presidential Villa
… Amendments on 2018 budget still possible where there is superior logic
Just months after there was outrage and subsequent suspension and sacking of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir David Lawal by President Buhari over graft and alleged involvement in the diversion of N200 million from the Presidential Initiative in the North East, PINE, for grass-cutting, another whopping sum for “cleaning and fumigating” the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, as well as other huge sums earmarked from the 2018 budget for expenses by the federal government has continued to raise dust.
Mr. Ben Akabueze, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), has, however, defended some provisions of the 2018 budget considered frivolous.
Akabueze defended the provisions of the budget at a dialogue session with the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja on Wednesday.
The session was organised to enhance the understanding of stakeholders on issues and reform efforts regarding the 2018 budget.
On the N308 million voted for the procurement of riot control equipment for 37 state police commands, including the FCT, Akabueze said “this provision works out as less than N10 million per state command, I am not sure what is suspicious here’’.
“Is it that there are no riots that need to be controlled or that an average of under N10 million per state police command is excessive expenditure on these items?’’
He said there were generalisations of items on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform which made it impossible to really specify what the items were.
He added that henceforth, such clarifications would be made to avoid labeling of such items as frivolous.
“There is N1.1 billion for cleaning and fumigation services for the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
“We are not shy to admit that for ONSA because all over the world, matters of national security are treated with some degree of confidentiality,” explained Akabueze.
He also defended the N2.2 billion for Social Media Mining Suite.
“The Department of State Service (DSS) may have plans to implement some security protocols to curtail the spread of fake news which may threaten national security.
“But the DSS has assured us that the intention is not to hinder freedom of speech or information,’’ said Akabueze.
Regarding the N4.9 billion billed for annual maintenance of mechanical/electrical equipment in the Presidential Villa, Akabueze said the villa was quite an expansive complex, which comprised several offices, residences and other relevant support facilities.
He, however, said since the budget was still in the appropriation stage, amendments could be made to items that are not national priorities.
“We, however, still welcome public evaluations of the items in the budget because ultimately, the budget must be toward what people deem as national priorities.
“If there are any items in the budget that you think ought not to be there or be a priority at this time, they should be flagged and identified to us and we would engage.
“The budget is still in progress and it is still possible to make amendments where there is superior logic.’’
The 2018 budget which was put at N8.612 trillion and presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 7, 2017 was tagged “Budget of Consolidation.’’