Buhari faces internal crisis as ministers trade words over 2016, 2017 budgets


By Odunewu Segun

The fierce rivalry between Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the Minister of budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma over who should superintend 2016, 2017 budget processes and implementations may have exposed the disunity among key officials and their ministry in the Federal cabinet.

National Daily gathered from sources that the rivalry has allegedly created confusion among officials of other ministries and parastatals with regards to which of the ministries to consult on grey areas in the preparation and implementation of the budget.

Sources said the rivalry may put a cog in the wheel of implementation of the 2016 budget, and also likely to hamstring the early passage of the 2017 budget.

It was also gathered that the ministry of finance created three new departments to play critical roles on budget implementation to which the ministry of Budget and National Planning objected to, claiming that the finance ministry was trying to usurp its responsibilities.

Some of the officials sanctioned at the wake of the budget padding crisis earlier this year are said to be performing strategic roles at the new departments created by the finance ministry.

The departments include: Cash Management, Special Projects, and Technical Services, bringing the total departments in the Ministry to more than 10.

Analysts are of the opinion that with the sanctioned officials now playing key roles in the implementation of the budget would create credibility problems for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in his fight against corruption.

Buhari had in February this year while speaking in Saudi Arabia threatened to punish all those who were involved in the padding of the 2016 budget. He said the alterations, which he described as embarrassing and disappointing, made the document, which was debated in the National Assembly, completely different from what was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

In a statement, then by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke in Riyadh while addressing the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia. He regretted that the unauthorized alterations had completely changed the document from the one he presented to the National Assembly.

The President, however, gave the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, a clean bill of health, saying he did a good job. Buhari said, “The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund.

Economic Confidential reports that the officials removed from the Federal Ministry of Finance have since resumed duties in the same Ministry without the highly publicized punishment the President promised while speaking to Nigerians resident in Saudi Arabia.

Apart from the removal of Director General of Budget Office and deployment of several directors and senior officials from the Ministry, President Buhari also merged the budget office with the Ministry of Planning.

About 15 senior officials from other Ministries and Departments were posted to the Budget Office to replace the sanctioned officials that were recalled to Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

Other Ministries involved in the scandal include but not limited to Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Education, Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, Trade and Investment, and Interior Ministry.