NASS BUDGET: SANUSI REFUSES TO APOLOGISE, INSISTS ON FIGURE
Central Bank Governor Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi yesterday refused to apologise before the Joint Committee of the Senate over the statement credited to him saying that 25 per cent of the Federal Government overhead expenditure is consumed by the National Assembly.
This was even as the Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga who is the custodian of the nation's budget, said that the figures bandied by the CBN governor were wrong saying that recurrent expenditure included overhead, personnel and service wide charges which were not captured by Mallam Sanusi in his calculation of percentage attributed to the National Assembly.
Mallam Sanusi said the figure he made reference to were given to him by the Director of Budget in addition to the internal figures of the Central Bank of Nigeria adding that if the figures were wrong, he could not say even as he added that he did not know where the finance minister got his own figures from.
The CBN governor who could not give the budget of the apex bank until prodded further, later announced a budget of N303 billion in comparison to that of the National Assembly which stood at N158 billion. He said the context of his controversial statement should be considered more than the text of the statement. According to Sanusi, 'the context is what should be a major concern. I am not responsible for the overhead cost neither am I responsible for the newspapers headlines but I can confirm that I said that 25 per cent of the Federal Government overhead goes to the National Assembly.'
The CBN governor said that if democracy is to survive, it must be made in such a way to correct itself even as he said that while he enjoyed his job as the boss of the apex bank, he would not put up a fight if told to quit. 'I enjoy serving the people, I am not thinking of quitting but if I m told to quit, I can assure you that I would not put up a fight. It is part of the independence of the CBN to be able to express itself on the economy,' Sanusi said.
However, the Minister of Finance Mr. Olusegun Aganga said if the entire recurrent expenditure was taken into account, the percentage of the budget that went to the National Assembly stood at 3.77 per cent and not 25 percent as alleged by the CBN governor. Mr. Aganga explained that there was no way recurrent expenditure could be tabulated without adding service wide vote even as he explained that overhead could be read separately outside the main recurrent expenditure.
The finance Minister who denied ever corroborating the statement credited to the CBN governor to the effect that he was alleged to have said he was planning to work towards the reduction of the budget of the National Assembly, said that the newspapers stories were far from the truth. According Mr. Aganga; 'I did not make any statement to anyone or the press in relation to the National Assembly or the budget not to talk of saying that I was in the process of cutting the budget.
'We just started discussion on the 2011 budget which is all embracing between the executive arm of government and the National Assembly. I did not, have not made such a statement, could not and would not make such a statement at any point in time.' In his own comment, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation Senator Iyiola Omisore who chaired the Public Hearing said that from every indication, the CBN governor deliberately quoted a particular sub-head of the budget just to suit a particular purpose, stressing that based on the figure contained in the approved 2010 Appropriation Act assented to by the President, which was a law, Mallam Sanusi received wrong information.
Senator Omisore, therefore, said that given the figure presented by Mallam Sanusi, it remained quite disappointing that Nigeria particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria had a long way to go, stressing that it was most unfortunate that Nigerians had been sold the wrong signal particularly at this time of the nation's democracy. Speaking in the same vein Senator Chris Anyanwu said that it was appalling that the governor of the Central Bank would condescend to the level of selective use of statistics, adding that one of the major problems of Mallam Sanusi was the fact that he engaged in over speak.
Also speaking, Senator Mohammed Makarfi said it was difficult to understand the motive of the CBN governor in deliberately dishing out misinformation to the Nigerian public without crosschecking his fact even when the copies of the budget were public document. Before being asked to take a leave, the Minister of Finance said that the definition of overhead included the service wide vote and not otherwise.