Senator Babafemi Ojudu, representing Ekiti Central senatorial district, may have uncovered a massive fraud in the 2014 Appropriation Bill presently before National Assembly.
The Executive Arm had last December submitted a budget proposal of N4.77 trillion separately before both chambers of the National Assembly but Mr. Ojudu, contributing to the debate on the piece of legislation at plenary yesterday, told his colleagues that he compared the 2014 budget with those of 2012 and 2013 only to discover that there was no significant difference between the 2014 budget and the two previous ones.
He accused the Budget Office of the Federal Ministry of Finance of lifting word for word, the two previous budgets without making any alteration. He noted that there was no creativity in the budgeting process, adding that the process goes on year in year out without any serious thoughts going into it. Recalling the times when Nigeria used to have meaningful development plans, Senator Ojudu stated that the country’s budget was no longer aimed at solving the country’s problems but merely serves as a ruse to enrich the pockets of corrupt government officials.
According to the All Progressives Congress, APC senator, development plans for Nigeria grounded to a halt in 1986 and ever since, he argued the country’s budget has emphasized recurrent expenditures which are easy to release and manipulate for personal purposes by civil servants.
He noted that in the 2014 budget, as in the 2012 and 2013 budgets, the recurrent allocation for computer software acquisition, local and foreign travels, welfare package, as well as local and foreign training amounted to billions of Naira.
Mr. Ojudu cited the example of the budgetary allocation for computer software, which is at N10 billion. He added that all ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government have allocations for computer software acquisition to the tune of at least N10 million, with the highest allocation of N580 million for the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The allocations, he indicated, are no different from those of 2012 and 2013.
Senator Ojudu faulted the allocation for Research and Development which cuts across all MDAs, including those with no research departments, wondering if they have suddenly turned into universities or research institutions.
The full research and development allocation stand at N45 billion.
“These are not universities or research agencies. What are they researching? It is this wasteful budgeting that has shot up the recurrent expenditure to 75%. It is incumbent on us as lawmakers, if we are truly for the people, to remove all avenues of waste from this year’s budget. If we fail to do so, we would not have justified the reason for [their] electing us into the Senate”, Mr. Ojudu argued.
Not a few Nigerians have picked holes with the 2014 budget since it was made public but the Goodluck Jonathan administration has remained steadfastly committed to it, with the president only just last week calling on the National Assembly to ensure its speedy passage.