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Budget Scam Caused by Criminality and Inexperience – HURIWA

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*Non-career civil servants picked by Buhari as perm Secs

A frontline Pro-Democracy Non -Governmental organisation – Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has lambasted the Nigerian minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Mr. Lai Mohammed came under fire over his claim that the 2016 controversial budget wasn’t padded since the total proposed figures projected for all the ministries tallies with the N608 Trillion.

The group dismissed his defence of the clear manifestations of criminality as puerile and totally laughable. 

HURIWA said the Information Minister is one missing link in the current ‘change’ administration because of his penchant for partisan propaganda.

The group, therefore, urged the President to pick a core professional information manager as Minister of Information. 

This was contained in a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf.

HURIWA said the numerous premeditated ‘errors’ noticed in the badly padded 2016 budget of President Muhammadu Buhari are products of large scale presence of highly inexperienced Permanent secretaries and the square pegs in round holes appointed into the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Budget office. 

HURIWA also blamed ‘budget mafia lords’ for manipulating the 2016 budget.

HURIWA said it has learnt from very credible sources that some permanent secretaries appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari and posted to strategic ministries such as Interior, Power/Works/Housing ministries were total strangers.

Those reportedly never rose from the civil service ranks and indeed were never civil servants just as the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Justice is said to be a Deputy Director who was promoted over and above his seniors with high cognate experiences. 

HURIWA said the promotion of a Deputy Director to the position of Permanent Secretary over and above his bosses is strange and totally odd to the civil service ethics and modus operandi. 

The Rights group said the controversy dogging the proposed 2016 Appropriation (Budget) was the unique products of pure criminality on the part of some entrenched ‘budget mafia’.

They cashed in on the inexperience of some of the Permanent secretaries and the ministers in charge of Budget and Finance to pad up the budget with incredulous and unfathomable projections.

This was construed with the criminal intentions of cleverly diverting into their private pockets the proceeds that would have accrued if the proposed 2016 was passed in the business-as-usual format of the National Assembly which has been the practice over the past many years. 

The group has called for a forensic investigation of the intentional padding of the 2016 budget even as the group condemned the information minister for providing soft landing for the alleged budget scammers and thieves.

HURIWA commended the Senator Bukola Saraki led Senate of the Federal Republic for waking up from legislative slumber and embracing their oversight functions by scrutinising the documents submitted to them as the proposed 2016 budget.

It also challenged the legislature to continue to expose criminals who still masquerade as change agents in the current Federal government. 

The Rights group blasted the information minister for attempting to weave wool around the eyes of uninformed Nigerians by putting up an argument that stands logic on its head and is at best laughable and fallacious. 

It asked: “How can the minister of Information seek to defend some of the magical figures attached to some subheads such as millions of Naira budgeted for the connection of cables to the toilet of the Chief driver of the Presidential Villa? 

“Or how on Earth will a minister defend a proposed budget that allocates over N70 million for the hair stylist of the Presidential Mansion? 

“This minister must either be a professional clown or is simply playing on the collective psyche and good spirited people of Nigeria.  

“Let Nigerians continue to demand accountability and thorough sanctions for the members of the budget syndicates in the respective federal agencies who participated in the padding of the 2016 budget”.

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