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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Count Buhari out of budget padding scandal — Presidency

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The Presidency has distanced itself from the budget padding scandal rocking the National Assembly, saying the Appropriation Act being implemented was the one passed by the lawmakers in March.

The Senior Special Assistant to President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), ​Ita Enang, ​stated this on
Tuesday at the national secretariat of APC after a closed​-​door meeting with the party leadership.

The former ​c​hairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini J​i​brin, had alleged that the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, his deputy, Yusuf Lasun​,​ and two other principal​ officers “padded” the budget with N40 billion.

Mr. Dogara has since denied the allegation. He also refused to resign from office as demanded by some members of the lower legislative chamber.

Mr. Enang ​said the presidency did not know anything about the ​scandal.
He said the budget that was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari was the one passed by the National Assembly.

“We are here on the invitation of the party leadership of the APC with my colleague to bring answers to issues raised by the party from the 2016 Appropriation and we have been with the party for a little over three hours and we have given explanation on every issue that there was nothing, to our knowledge, no padding of the budget,” he said.

“The budget as assented to by Mr. President is the budget as passed by the National Assembly and that is the budget be​ing​ executed.

“But as at now the party is handling it as a domestic issue, and all of us are enjoined not to make public comment on the details of it because the matter is still under consideration.

“So that is what we will want to say for now, we will not want to go into the details of it so that we will not breach the ethics of the party, the directives of the party or pre-empt everything, any outcome by the party.”

Mr. Enang, a former senator who came to APC secretariat in company of his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Ismail Kawu, was however evasive when asked if Mr. Dogara was guilty of the allegation levelled against him.

According to him, “I will want to say that we came here as persons who work as liaison officers on the budget and the party had questions for us to make clarifications and we have made those clarifications to the party.

“We would not want to draw any conclusion. Please let us not go too far and mentioning any office. Let it be that two of us have appeared before the party.”

The presidential aide explained that “in all our years of legislative engagement, we are yet to find in the legislative lexicon the word padding”​.​

He added, “When the budget is presented before the legislature, the legislature is to consider the budget and pass as they deem fit.

“So what the legislature pass​es​ becomes the Appropriation upon assent. Therefore, any word which is yet to crystalize in legislative lexicon, you cannot hear us mention it.”
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