Humanitarian Minister blames Zainab Ahmed of masterminding N206bn budget padding

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiyya Farouq, has blamed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, for adding N206bn to the humanitarian ministry’s budget.

Farouq, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties on Monday to defend its 2023 budget, claimed that the ministry requested some projects for the North-East Development Commission and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 Budget, which were not released, but was surprised to see an inflated amount in the 2023 budget of the ministry.

A controversy ensued at the budget defence, when one of the committee members, Senator Elisha Abbo, asked the minister about the inflated N206bn in the budget. The minister responded, saying: “Yes, we made mention of the projects for 2022 that were not released, and part of it was for the NEDC.

“The money was not released, and now that we have seen it recurring by almost 10-fold, we are also going to seek clarification from the Ministry of Finance to know why the increase occurred despite the fact that the previous year, the money requested wasn’t released for the projects. So, we will get the details and then send them to you”.

Abbo, who expressed shock at the minister’s revelation, stated, “This is serious. We cannot continue to borrow money and plunge this country into debt for our children to come and pay without investing in what they will see.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, moved a motion to summon the Finance Minister to explain the N206bn inserted in the budget.

This is not the first ministry to accuse the finance minister of inserting money into the budget. On Thursday, the Defence Minister also told the Upper Chamber that Ahmed inserted a total of N11bn into its 2023 budget; the Minister of Health also accused her of budget padding.

However, the minister was yet to respond to the allegation as of the time of filing this report.

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