[The Legislative Blog]: Did the Senate just uncover padding in the 2017 budget?

First of all, it comes as no surprise that this irregularity was found in the budget proposal of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing headed by Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN). We already established that the man is no saint. His ministry was recently accused of conniving with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to inflate the costs of contracts and change the names of contractors.

Now, the Senate has discovered that N2 billion was allocated to an unknown Regional Housing Scheme and Minister Fashola has denied knowledge of the presence of that amount in the budget. He claims it must have been inserted when the proposal went to the Finance Ministry and that the minister in charge, Kemi Adeosun should be invited to explain.

In his words, “It is not our project. It came in from, I think, the Budget (Office). It is a Ministry of Finance initiative; saying that they want to do what they called ‘family homes’. It is not from us.” This means he is aware of the scheme but is clearly dissociating himself from the funding plans and the individuals who may have placed it in the proposal.

The Senate has accused Fashola’s ministry of double budgeting but has written to the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun to appear before the Senate for questioning.

Minister Fashola’s questionable character in the past few months should not be overlooked and feigning ignorance of this N2 billion in his ministry’s budget proposal may not be able to save him at this point.

Beyond the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, it’s been reported that about 276 questionable items from 55 agencies have been found in proposals from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) like Budget and National Planning, Works, Power and Housing, Health, Water Resources, and even the EFCC.

It is apparent that the same issues that trailed the 2016 budget are going to be recycled and we will keep running in circles with little or no progress made.

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