Govt denies increasing Golden Jubilee budget


The Federal Government has said the proposed N10billion budget for the celebration of the nation's 50th Independence anniversary was not reviwed upwards from N62million by President Goodluck Jonathan. A paper reported yesterday that the N62million budget was initially approved by the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

But the government said the N10billion, was proposed by the committee set up by the late president to celebrate the Golden Jubilee.

According to the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, who briefed reporters yesterday, there was no single truth in the story as there was no initial budget for the celebration.

The said N62million, she pointed out, was specifically budgeted for the usual low key independence celebration and not for the Golden Jubilee celebration. The amount, she said, was for three ministries: Information, Police Affairs and Interior.

The minister added that there was no budget approved by the former president for the Golden Jubilee celebration.

Explaining the circumstances that led to the controversial N10billion budget, Mrs Akunyili said it was the late president who set up a committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Ahmed Yayale, to draw up a comprehensive Golden Jubilee anniversary celebration programme and appropriated budget for the celebration when he realised that there was no budget for it.

She also promised that a detailed breakdown of the budget as submitted by the committee would be released in due course.

Also yesterday, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) expressed displeasure that Dr Jonathan's administration is planning to spend about N10 billion to celebrate the nation's independence anniversary.

ANPP, in a statement by the Party's National Publicity Secretary, Emma Eneukwu, said proper attention should be given to power, which is the pillar of development in any society, adding that over the years, government has paid lip service to this particular sector which has helped in crippling the manufacturing sector and millions of small scale businesses.

Former Minister of Petroleum, Prof. Tam David-West, also criticised the N10 billion budgeted by the Federal Government.

David-West, who spoke in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital yesterday, described the budget as wasteful, saying it is a misnomer in a country where millions of jobless graduates are roaming the streets.

According to the Professor of Virology, the huge sum can fix part of the problems in the major sector such as power or education, adding that it can as well be used to revitalise the health sector.

He said: "Spending N10 billion on a mere celebration is completely out of place in a country that is itching to borrow more money to attend to ailing sectors of the economy. That could have done something to create job opportunities for many of our graduates who are roaming the streets, supply