2016 Budget Fraud: Reps block Ministry’s controversial N1 billion allocation

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The budget defence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, on Thursday, ended in a stalemate over controversial allocations to the ministry.

There are proposals of N1.07 billion for “optic fibre and satellite space segment” and N50 million for “global communication network computer” in the ministry’s budget. The budget was presented by the minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Thursday.

Both budget subheads are meant for a global communication project to connect Nigeria’s 119 diplomatic missions to the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

However, the chairman of the House Committee, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, insisted that appropriations had been made “many times” for the project in the previous budgets.

Mrs. Ukeje disclosed that a total of N9billion had been appropriated for the project in the past.

She questioned the non-completion of the project over the years and the need for over N1 billion naira for the project in the 2016 budget.

Interestingly, officials of the ministry, including the minister, the permanent secretary, director of finance and administration, spoke different times without responding to Mrs. Ukeje’s probe.

“I am very concerned about that (global connection project),” Mrs. Ukeje pressed for an answer.

Then, the permanent secretary explained that request for appropriations for the project in the 2016 budget was for completion.

He said 66 of the missions had been covered.

But Mrs. Ukeje countered the permanent secretary, saying previous appropriations were not to execute the project in phases.

He questioned why N9billion previous allocations would be for 66 missions and not all the 199 missions.

As the Permanent Secretary did not agree that N9 billion had been previously appropriated for the project, the lawmakers asked the ministry officials to go, check their books and return with their findings by Monday.

Other areas of the ministry’s budget which drew challenge from the lawmakers were N3.6billion for “posting of ambassadors and other officers” and N100 million for procurement of “Hilux van, saloon cars and Ford Fusion” without stating cost per unit and exact number needed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Onyeama disclosed that the ministry would commit part of its proposed capital vote of N8.8 billion to “invest more on real estate abroad to really avoid the challenge of paying rents”.

About Faith Irabor 1034 Articles
Welcome on board!!! Faith Irabor is just like your everyday girl next door with strong survival instincts. Am an International Journalist, Events planner and Blogger whose media journey dates back to June 2002 as a TV presenter with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Ile-Ife Osun State while I was having my National Diploma in Mass Communication. I left NTA in 2005 to pursue my B.SC in Mass Communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University OOU Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State and finished in 2008 before joining one of Nigeria's best investigative Tabloids (National Enquirer Magazine & www.enquirermag.blogspot.com). I am very privileged to be trained by one of the industry's bests, my boss and mentor Mr. Tunde Moshood Jr, the former Editor of the defunct Fame Magazine, Publisher of National Enquirer and president Miss Global Nigeria who taught me everything I know in Journalism especially the investigative aspect which is the fulfilment of being a member of the Fourth Estate of Realm (as we journalists are usually officially addressed). My desire to take my journalism practice beyond the Newspaper & Magazine came from the passion I have derived over the years from investigative journalism as Online Media is the best platform to tell a story or news the very minute it’s at your disposal without wasting time. I promise to serve you nothing but exclusive and interesting news, interviews, events, articles from around the world and please feel free to email me on faith.irabor@faithirabor.com on spotted errors as well as ideas that would make me do better as there is no perfect being anywhere except God. Now scroll up, click on any of the stories and please drop your comment!!!!

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