16th February, 2016
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state on Tuesday called for the withdrawal of the 2016 budget from the National Assembly as sacking government officials for allegedly padding the budget was not enough.
The Federal Government had sacked some top officials of parastatals over the scandal, but Fayose insists that the budget should be represented instead of sacking and appointing new officials.
Governor Fayose also queried the request by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for a ‘special funding arrangement for public media organisations to enable them to scale up their sensitisation campaign against insurgency in the North-East’.
Instead, the governor said Nigerians need further explanations as to why special fund would be needed on Boko Haram that he (Lai Mohammed) said had already been defeated.
In a release issued by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said what the controversial 2016 budget required was a holistic approach, not just making one person scapegoat, adding that: “the President must take total responsibility for the budget scam and apologise to Nigerians for the government’s embarrassment caused by the display of gross incompetence.”
Governor Fayose maintained that padding of the budget with strange figures, now being denied by ministers, was a clear intention to steal in advance.
He added that “though it is good that the President listened to my call for the punishment of those responsible for the
national embarrassment, mere sacking of officers at the Budget Office will not remove the stain splashed on Nigeria by the shameful budget.”
He likened blaming an imaginary ‘budget mafia’ for the padding of the budget to a driver blaming someone else for not applying the brake when it should have been applied, adding: “the bulk stops on the President’s table, he can’t blame anyone apart from himself for this national shame.
“Sacking one or two persons on this budget scam is just like using some people as cover-up for the national embarrassment caused by the President himself.
“Even the President himself signed a letter wrongly as October 22, 2016 and one is tempted to ask who the President will sack for these avoidable errors.
“In my own opinion, it is necessary that those handling the President should bring it to his consciousness that he is not God that cannot make mistakes and this budget scam must be seen as part of the mistakes that President Buhari is capable of making.
“By doing this, the President will be provided with another opportunity to represent the budget because I wonder how Nigeria can
operate on a budget already disowned by notable ministers, including the government’s spokesperson.
“Or what remedy can anyone do to a budget in which 2015 budgetary allocations of an agency was reproduced verbatim? Even N180 million was discovered to have been allocated to NIMET twice.”
While calling on the Minister of Information to explain to Nigerians why he required special budget for public media organisations on Boko Haram insurgency, Governor Fayose said: “what they told us was that they have technically defeated Boko Haram. What then do they need special fund for? Even last year, there was no such special fund.
“To my mind, there could be more to this clamour for special fund for media on ‘already defeated’ Boko Haram than meet the eyes.”