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Senate quizzes defence minister over alleged duplication of budgetary votes

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The Senate on Thursday quizzed the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd), over alleged duplication of budgetary votes.

The Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Itsifanus Gyang, had uncovered the insertion of N11 billion in the ministry’s 2023 budget when Magashi appeared for the defence of the budget proposal in Abuja.

The funds comprised N8.6billion earmarked for the procurement of military hardware /equipment and N2.25billion for Safe School Initiatives.

He said, “Hon Minister, in the proposed 2023 budget of your ministry N8.6bn is discovered to have been allocated for the purchase of military hardware and N2.25bn for Safe School Initiatives.

“The two items, when critically viewed, were not supposed to be in the ministry’s budget since hardware procurements are done by the Army, Navy and Air Force and Safe School Initiative by the Federal Ministry of Education.

“These to us are duplications of budgetary votes which require explanations from you.”

READ ALSO: Senate launches probes into N500bn loan to six geo-political zones

The minister in his response sought permission from the committee for the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Ibrahim Kana, to respond to the inquiry.

In his response, the permanent secretary told the committee that the funds were added to the ministry’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

“The two budgetary votes were not initiative of the ministry. The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning put them there,” he said.

However, the chairman of committee, Aliyu Wamakko, was not satisfied with the explanation offered by the permanent secretary.

He told the minister that the N8.6billion and N2.25billion proposals for the procurement of hardware and Safe School Initiatives would be removed from the ministry’s budget.

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