The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his annoyance and obvious dissatisfaction over the controversies following the 2016 budget proposal that is still under debate at the National Assembly. He said this in a statement he made yesterday night in Saudi Arabia where he described the situation as “embarrassing and disappointing.” He emphasized that the document currently under debate differed from what was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
President Buhari, who stated that he never knew what budget padding was until when the case was reported concerning the 2016 budget proposal, assured Nigerians that he would fish out as many as are involved in the illegal act, punishing them accordingly in order to prevent the occurrence of a similar situation. Hear him:
“The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a Military Governor, Petroleum Minister, Military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund.
“Never had I heard the words ‘budget padding’. Our Minister of Budget and National Planning did a great job with his team. The Minister became almost half his size during the time, working night and day to get the budget ready, only for some people to ‘pad’ it.
“What he gave us was not what was finally being debated. It is very embarrassing and disappointing. We will not allow those who did it to go unpunished,” President Buhari vowed.
Buhari who admitted for the first time that the budget he submitted to the national legislature last year for approval had been altered, said this while responding to questions at a meeting he had with members of the Nigerian Community in Saudi Arabia at the Nigerian House in Riyadh.
He declared that the budget was well put together by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udo Udoma and his team. The President who gave an assurance to members of the Nigerian community that his government was working tirelessly to bring its campaign promises, most especially concerning security, unemployment, and corruption to fulfillment, also talked about the problem of Boko Haram terrorists in the country, briefing the gathering on the efforts of his administration to end the menace saying;
“As you are all aware, insecurity has been a serious challenge for us in Nigeria, occasioned by the destructive activities of the Boko Haram. However, our armed forces have done a great job in dealing with the Boko Haram.
“We are collaborating with our neighbors in the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force to handle security threats in the sub-region and we have significantly destroyed the capacity of the insurgents.
“These renewed efforts helped to decimate the capacity of the insurgents and as I speak to you, the group is not in control of a single territory in Nigeria.”
President Buhari further reaffirmed his government’s zero tolerance for corruption, expressing their resolve to deal decisively with the challenge of corruption and other unethical practices. According to him;
“This government will do everything within the provision of the constitution to recover stolen funds and put an end to corrupt practices.
“This will be done by empowering relevant government agencies and institutions to carry out the task of nipping corruption in the bud and dealing decisively with anyone found wanting.”
He revealed that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to develop other sources of national revenue as a way of diversifying the economy in order to create fresh opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs and foreign investors. President Buhari also reassured that his administration had already started addressing the issue of unemployment, a step towards rebuilding the trust of the Nigerian citizens who are both at home and abroad.
The Nigerian president hailed the Charge’ D Affaires, the Consular General and the entire staff members of the Nigerian Embassy and the Consulate for making his visit a success, promised that his administration will work together with the Saudi Arabian government in order to provide solutions to some of the problems faced by Nigerians in the country and expressing his appreciation to all the Nigerian community he said,
“I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all Nigerians living in Saudi Arabia, particularly those of you present here today, for your solidarity and overwhelming support for my candidature during the last presidential election.
“I appreciate the fact that you are all in tune with events going on in Nigeria. I thank you for your patriotism and good conduct. I am aware of the challenges you face in this country. It will be unusual to assume that you are all comfortable and satisfied.”
The Charge’ D Affaires, Amb. Tijjani Hamman-Joda, in his remarks, thanked President Buhari for making out time to pay them a visit and address members of the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia.