Missing budget: Senate replies Akande over comments

By The Citizen

The Senate on Saturday described as regrettable and unfortunate a statement credited to the former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, where he allegedly faulted the claim by the upper chamber of the National Assembly on the 'missing' 2016 budget proposal.

Akande had allegedly described the claim that the 2016 budget was missing from the red chamber as an indication of the indiscipline that produced its leadership.

But the Senate, in a statement by its Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, on Saturday night, accused Akande of making his statement based on mere speculation.

The Senate said it was 'regrettable that a man of Akande's status would be responding to mere speculation without cross-checking his facts.'

It stated that Akande, by his statement, was always eager to latch on any opportunity to bring to disrepute the leadership of the Senate because he failed to get his choice candidates elected.

The Senate urged Akande to check his records properly so that he could see that 'at no time did the Senate say the 2016 budget proposal was missing.'

The statement further said, 'We have said it several times that the budget was not missing. What we said was that two versions of the details of the budget exist and this is no longer in doubt as the presidency has equally admitted this.

'We expect a man of Akande's calibre to cross-check his facts and take us up on our words. That he decided to ignore the facts and make comments on speculations is regrettable.

'He (Akande) is a man who had served in government. He is a leader of the party with the majority in the Senate and he has several channels of cross-checking facts as against speculations.'

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning on Saturday declined to make any comment regarding the claims made by the Senate that the executive submitted two versions of the 2016 budget.

The ministry, which is under the supervision of the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, is responsible for the preparation of the budget.

When contacted by our correspondent over the allegations that the budget was doctored, the Director, Information, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Charles Dafe, declined to comment on the issue.

'We have no comments,' Dafe said.
However, investigations by our correspondent showed that following the controversy surrounding the whereabouts of the 2016 budget at the Senate, the ministry in a bid to clear the air decided to upload details of the fiscal document on its website.

It was learnt that decision to make the document public for the first time since President Muhamadu Buhari presented the fiscal document to a joint session of the National Assembly about a month ago was made after a meeting presided over by Udoma.

It was gathered from top officials in the ministry that the Federal Government was embarrassed about claims that the budget was smuggled out of the Senate by the Executive.

This, according to the official informed the decision to make the fiscal document available on the website of the ministry for all Nigerians to see.

The source said by making the document available on the website of the ministry, anyone who has doubt about its content could download it and compare with what the President presented.

The source said, 'The controversy concerning the whereabouts of the budget has caused huge embarrassment to the government and this ministry.

'We even had discussions on it at the ministry on Wednesday and it was decided that rather than defending ourselves on the budget, it was better we upload details of the budget on our website. And this has been done on Thursday .' Punch