Senate advocates adherence to budget procedures

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has called on public officials to adhere to the country’s budget procedures, noting that the lawmaking body will not tolerate any form of disregard for the budget process by anyone, when the 2017 budget takes effect.

Chairman of the Senate committee on anti corruption and financial crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, made the call on Monday, while presiding over the 2017 budget defence session of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Senator Utazi particularly frowned at the attitude of agencies that resort to the service wide vote for some funds to augment shortfalls in their budgetary allocation for the 2016 capital projects.

He urged the EFCC Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu and other public officials to always inform the Senate about any decision concerning their expenditure, instead of taking advantage of their relationship with the President to request for funds from the service wide vote, which do not require legislative approvals before utilisation by the Presidency.

The Enugu state born Senator also advised the EFCC to adhere strictly to the constitutional provisions of the federal character principle in its ongoing recruitment of Cadets of the commission, stressing that posting of staff from other agencies should be stopped in two years time.

“And we know that it will never be the same when you have the core staff who are trained in the EFCC academy than the people who just visit, stay one, two or three years and move on to their parent agencies. We saw the variations in their performance during our oversight.

The difference is clear between the core staff and those on secondment, and so, we want you to do everything possible as soon as possible to free EFCC of such people who come on secondment. We want the core staff to take over that place.”

The anti-graft agency has a proposed total sum of =N=17, 202,353,360 billion as its 2017 budget, which is a decrease of 8.5% from the 2016 budget of =N=18,887, 531, 636 billion appropriated for the EFCC.

Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu who defended the budget estimates, said the 2017 proposed appropriation is far below the tasks ahead of the security outfit, noting that three major projects are urgently begging for attention.

According to Mr. Magu, the projects are, the ongoing recruitment of the 1,500 cadets approved for 2016 to 2017, which has increased the personnel cost of the anti-graft agency. There is also the proposed establishment of new zonal offices in Benin City, and Uyo, both of which are located in southern Nigeria. The other project is the completion of the new head office building of the commission in Abuja.

Mr. Magu further appealed to the Senate to facilitate the recent drive to create a budget code for the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to boost the anti corruption war.