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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will be more thorough in scrutinizing the 2017 budget in order to ensure that the ugly cases of budget padding that characterized the 2016 document do not come again.
Buhari gave the reassurance while receiving members of the Governance Support Group, GSG, led by Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Friday,
He said: “I am waiting for the 2017 budget to be brought to us in Council. Any sign of padding anywhere, I will remove it.”
President Buhari said the issue of padding was alien to him in all his years as a political administrator, having served as state governor, oil minister, head of state, and Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, “and never did I hear the word ‘padding’ till the 2016 Budget.”
He said that it was unfortunate that despite the federal government’s resolve to confront and defeat corruption, many prominent Nigerians were doing all they could to thwart the campaign.
“They don’t want to reflect on the situation in which we are, economically. They want to live the same way; they simply want business as usual,” he said.
Buhari added that the ongoing anti-corruption cases against some senior judicial officers “will lead to a better judiciary.”
“When people are sentenced, Nigerians will believe that we are serious,” he said.
On the issue of electoral credibility in the country and how to curb the many cases of post-election violence, the president said that his administration was treating the issue as high priority.
“I agonized over the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states,” he said.
“We should have passed the stage in which people are beheaded, and killed because of who occupies certain offices.
“If we can’t guarantee decent elections, then we have no business being around.
“Edo State election was good, and I expect Ondo State election to be better,” he added.
President Buhari expressed optimism that the country’s agricultural sector has recorded positive changes and improvement.
He said: “Our grains go up to Central African Republic, to Burkina Faso, but they can’t buy all the grains harvested this year.
“And next season should be even better. We will focus on other products like cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, along with the grains.
“We can start exporting rice in 18 months, and we are getting fertilizers and pesticides in readiness for next year.”
Leader of the delegation, Nwajiuba, commended the president, saying that his administration has to a large extent succeeded on the security and anti-corruption fronts.
He said he was optimistic that the economy would soon experience a turnaround, “as the government is working very hard in that direction.”
Nwajiuba reminded Buhari that his biggest constituency was the poor and lowly, and as such, more policies and programmes of the government should be directed at them.