Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that the 2016 budget contained distortions with a “series of rogue projects and figures injected into it”.
He however vowed that such will not happen to the 2017 budget, which he is likely to submit to the National Assembly on December 1.
A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina quoted the president as saying this when he received in audience members of the Governance Support Group (GSG), led by Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at State House, Abuja on Friday.
The President said: “I am waiting for the 2017 Budget to be brought to us in Council. Any sign of padding anywhere, I will remove it.”
It will however be recalled that the president had dispelled allegation, especially from the former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin that the 2016 budget had been heavily padded by some lawmakers.
President Buhari however re-iterated that he had been in government since 1975, variously as governor, oil minister, head of state, and Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), “and never did I hear the word ‘padding’ till the 2016 Budget.”
He promised that such would never happen again under his watch.
The President said the government stands by its tripod campaign promises of securing the country, reviving the economy, and fighting corruption, but lamented that some people are deliberately turning blind eyes to prevailing realities in the country.
“They don’t want to reflect on the situation in which we are, economically. They want to live the same way; they simply want business as usual,” he said.
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On violence that attend rerun elections in the country, President Buhari stated:
“I agonized over the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states. We should have passed the stage in which people are beheaded, and killed because of who occupies certain offices. If we can’t guarantee decent elections, then we have no business being around. Edo State election was good, and I expect Ondo State election to be better.”
Speaking on the anti-corruption cases before the courts, the President said he believed the cleansing currently going on “will lead to a better judiciary. When people are sentenced, Nigerians will believe that we are serious.”
President Buhari equally told his guests that the progress being made in agriculture and exploitation of solid minerals “gives a lot of hope,” adding: “Our grains go up to Central African Republic, to Burkina Faso, but they can’t buy all the grains harvested this year. And next season should be even better. We will focus on other products like cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, along with the grains. We can start exporting rice in 18 months, and we are getting fertilizers and pesticides in readiness for next year.”
Speaking on behalf of members of GSG, Hon. Nwajiuba said the government had succeeded to a large extent on the security and anti-corruption fronts, adding that the group was positive that the economy would soon experience a turnaround, “as the government is working very hard in that direction.”
The group said the biggest constituency of the President was the poor and lowly, and thus recommended what it calls “a social re-armament of the poor.”
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