Sadiya Farouq, Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has explained that the N206 billion inserted into her ministry’s 2023 proposed budget by the Ministry of Finance was meant for the purchase of military equipment.
Farouq gave the explanation on Thursday when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties, Chaired by Senator Yusuf Yusuf.
A member of the Committee, Senator Uche Lilian Ekwunife, had asked the minister whether she had identified the source of the N206 billion in her ministry’s proposed budget she had disowned the last time she appeared before the panel.
Responding, the minister said, “On the N206 billion, when we saw it, we didn’t understand what it was meant for because the explanation wasn’t clear.
“If you put N206 billion in Humanitarian Affairs Ministry’s Budget and the narration is purchase of military equipment, definitely something is wrong.
“That’s why I said I’m not going to say anything about it until we get clarification from the Ministry of Finance.
“If we had requested for N206 billion for a different project and then in the appropriation bill, it is reading something else, we will not own it.”
When the minister was pressed further whether she requested N206 billion for another project, she then came up with another narration.
She said, “It is not exactly that way, and that’s why we need that clarity from the Finance ministry.”
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Sani Gwarzo, however courted the anger of the Committee’s Chairman when he described budget padding as a minor mistake.
His utterance did not go down well with Yusuf who shouted at him and asked him to sit down.
The minister was at the National Assembly last week to defend her Ministry’s 2023 Budget before the Senate Committee on Special Duties.
She explained that the Ministry requested for some projects for the North East Development Commission (NEDC) and National Social Safety Net Project in 2022 budget but that funds for the proposed projects were not released.
She, however, said the Ministry was surprised that the money inserted, was now ten times higher than the 2023 Budget of the Ministry.
One of the Committee members, Senator Elisha Abbo had discovered the anomaly and had asked the minister to explain the N206 billion in her Ministry’s budget.