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N206bn Inserted in Humanitarian Ministry’s Budget for Military Equipment, Says Minister Farouq

“When we saw it, we didn’t understand what it was meant for because the explanation wasn’t clear,” she said.

Sadiya Umar Farouq

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has explained that the N206 billion inserted into her ministry’s 2023 proposed budget by the Ministry of Finance was meant for the purchase of military equipment.
She gave the explanation on Thursday when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties, Chaired by Senator Yusuf Yusuf.
A member of the Committee, Senator Lilian Ekwunife, had asked the minister whether she had identified the source of the N206 billion in her ministry’s proposed budget she had disowned the last time she appeared before the panel.
In her response, the minister said, “On the N206 billion, when we saw it, we didn’t understand what it was meant for because the explanation wasn’t clear.
“If you put N206 billion in Humanitarian Affairs Ministry’s Budget and the narration is purchase of military equipment, definitely something is wrong.
“That’s why I said I’m not going to say anything about it until we get clarification from the Ministry of Finance.
“If we had requested for N206 billion for a different project and then in the appropriation bill, it is reading something else, we will not own it.”
When the minister was pressed further whether she requested N206 billion for another project, she then came up with another narration.
She said, “It is not exactly that way, and that’s why we need that clarity from the Finance ministry.”
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Sani Gwarzo, however courted the anger of the Committee’s Chairman when he described budget padding as a minor mistake.
His utterance did not go down well with Yusuf who shouted at him and asked him to sit down.
The minister was at the National Assembly last week to defend her Ministry’s 2023 Budget before the Senate Committee on Special Duties.
She explained that the Ministry requested for some projects for the North East Development Commission (NEDC) and National Social Safety Net Project in 2022 budget but that funds for the proposed projects were not released.
She, however, said the Ministry was surprised that the money inserted, was now ten times higher than the 2023 Budget of the Ministry.
One of the Committee members, Senator Elisha Abbo had discovered the anomaly and had asked the minister to explain the N206 billion in her Ministry’s budget.
The minister had expressed surprise and said, “Yes we made mention of the projects for 2022 which was not released and part of it was part for the NEDC.
“The money was not released and now we have seen it recurring by almost 10 folds and we are also going to clarify from the ministry of finance to know why this increase despite the fact that the previous year, the money was not even released for the project.
“So we will get the details then send to you on that. On upscaling of the National Social Safety Net Project. These projects under the national social safety nets, the condition cash transfer, the updating of the national social register and the rapid response register as well to cushion the effect of inflation.
“This is all I can say for this. I cannot really give full details of how this amount is going to be utilised because it is something that was negotiated between the ministry of finance and world bank.”
Abbo expressed shock at the minister’s response and said that the country would not continue to borrow money and plunge the country into debt.
He had said, ” This is serious. We cannot continue to borrow money and plunge this country into debt for our children to come and pay without investing in what they will see.”
The Chairman of the Committee had moved a motion to summon the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed to come and give explanation about the N206 billion inserted in the Ministry budget.

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