Humanitarian affairs minister blames finance ministry for N206 billion budget padding as Senate expresses shock

The minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has blamed the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, for the insertion of N206 billion into her ministry’s budget in the 2023 appropriation bill.

This was made known by Farouq when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties to defend her ministry’s 2023 budget proposal on Monday at the National Assembly complex.

Farouq, who distanced the humanitarian ministry from budget padding, claimed that the ministry requested some projects for the North-east Development Commission (NEDC) and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget which was not released.

She, however, said the ministry was surprised that the money inserted, was now ten times that in the 2023 proposed budget of the ministry.

Committee member drills minister: The meeting became a bit heated in the budget defence when one of the committee members, Senator Elisha Abbo, sought an explanation from the minister about the N206 billion that was inserted into the ministry’s budget.

The minister, who was shocked at the stated amount said,

  • “Yes we made mention of the projects for 2022 which was not released and part of it was part for the NEDC.
  • “The money was not released and now we have seen it recurring by almost 10 fold. We are also going to clarify from the Ministry of Finance to know why this increase despite the fact that in the previous year the money was not even released for the project. So we will get the details and then send them to you on that.
  • “On upscaling of the National Social Safety Net Project, these projects are under the National Social Safety Net, the condition cash transfer, the updating of the national social register, and the rapid response register as well to cushion the effect of inflation.
  • “This is all I can say for this. I cannot really give full details of how this amount is going to be utilised because it is something that was negotiated between the Ministry of Finance and World Bank.”

Abbo who was shocked by the minister’s response said the country would not continue to borrow money and be plunged into debt.

He said,

  • “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.”

Senate summons finance minister: The chairman of the committee, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, thereafter moved a motion to summon the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to come and give an explanation about the N206 billion inserted in the ministry’s budget.

Yusuf said,

  • “I want to move a motion that the minister of finance should appear before this committee to furnish this committee with details of what they intend to do with N206 billion in the 2023 budget.
  • “Now that the minister has said that she is not in charge of negotiation, of course, she is not, the minister of finance is responsible.”