We Did Not Increase Independence Budget – Akinyuli

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San Francisco, June 16, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government on Wednesday denied that the proposed N10 billion naira expenditure for the celebration of Nigeria’s 50th independence celebrations was increased from N62 million naira as exclusively reported in the Monday, June 14 edition of THEWILL.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili while reacting to the report also carried by a local paper on Wednesday, in her explanation after Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting in Abuja said the report was inaccurate.

Akunyili said the N62 million in question was budgeted for the usual low key independence celebration and not for the Golden Jubilee. She added that there was no initial budget for the Golden Jubilee celebration by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration that instead, it was the late President who approved that a committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, be set up to put together a scope for the Golden Jubilee Celebration and appropriated a budget for it when it was discovered that it was not accommodated in the 2010 budget.

She said the N62 million naira in the budget sent to the National Assembly was voted for three ministries as we had reported, namely; Information, Police Affairs and Interior.

Akunyili said a detailed breakdown of the N10 billion naira planned for the celebration would be made available in 'due course.'

The federal government has come under intense criticism for budgeting N10 billion naira for the anniversary celebrations. The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and other agencies have called it a waste of scarce resources.