The leadership of the National Assembly has issued a working document to chairmen of the various committees directing them to thoroughly examine all allocations in the 2017 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is in an effort to avoid any more budget-related scandals that marred the 2016 budget verification and passage process.
According to the document, lawmakers in the various standing committees of the National Assembly were specifically directed to carry out in-depth scrutiny of at least 590 suspicious line items during the ongoing budget defence by government ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs.
The document, titled “2017 Budget: Frivolous & Suspicious Items”, wasspecifically prepared for the National Assembly by a leading Non-Governmental transparency organisation – BudgiT.
It also contains about 590 questionable items in the 2017 budget from 32 MDAs, which the NGO wants lawmakers to concentrate on when the various government agencies appear before them to defend their budget proposals.
According to the document, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, has 30 questionable line items listed against it,followed by the State House which has 21 while the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, has 16.
Similarly, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission, ICPC has 11 line items listed against it, while the Code of Conduct Bureau, CBB, has 3.
Almost each of the federal government’s MDAs has one or two line items listed against it in the document.
Authors of the document, BudgIT, stated that the paper “does not exhaust all the frivolous and suspicious items in the proposed 2017 budget,” adding that it was only intended to “serve as a guide to the National Assembly during the budget defence sessions.”
“We state that our comments are without prejudice and are raised from concerned citizens,” the group said.
“This should allow the National Assembly to ask questions to ensure proper allocation of funds.”