The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, at a press conference in Lagos on Saturday said the 2016 budget was not padded because the total figure voted for all ministries had not exceeded N6.08tn.
Mohammed’s claim came after the Ministry of Budget and National Planning had promised to investigate and punish those responsible for the errors and strange figures found in the budget.
“A lot has been said about the budget. Let me make it clear that nobody can ever accuse this government of padding any budget.
“The total of all ministries put together has not exceeded N6.08tn that was submitted. It is factually incorrect to say that the budget was padded.
“The total for every ministry has remained exactly the same as what was submitted to the national assembly.”
Mohammed, while justifying the newly adopted zero-based budgeting system on Saturday, said the current administration was the first to ask ministers to justify their allocations in the history of Nigeria.
He said, “This is the first time in the history of this country that a government will embark on what is called zero-based budget.
“Before now, the budget system was what was called an enveloped system. In an envelope system, there is no justification as to why we need N30 billion for a structure. This year, we decide that every ministry must have a zero-based budget. In other word, you must justify and explain why you need N100bn.
“This is very good system, the software for it was also very different. The personnel were not used to it. What the ministers do is to have a broad overview of the budget. The template used by the budget office is uniform for all ministers.”
It would be recalled that National Assembly has been uncovering irregularities in the budget since President Muhammadu Buhari presented it to the legislature for approval last December.
President Buhari had on last Monday sacked the Director-General (Budget), Mr. Yahaya Gusau due to the embarrassing errors in the budget. He had also reportedly ordered mass sackings in the Budget Office over the irregularities.
Sources in the Presidency had on February 6 alleged that a ‘budget mafia’ planned to scuttle innovations introduced by the current administration into the budget by inflating figures.