The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development’s 2023 budget show an addition of N206 billion, which the Senate has called the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to explain.
The Senate requested that Ms. Ahmed come before it with information and plans on the allocation made in spite of the nation’s declining revenue and ailing economy.
The decision to invite the minister was taken on Monday at the Humanitarian Affairs ministry’s budget defense session.
It came as a result of Sadiya Farouq, the minister of humanitarian affairs, being unable to provide specifics on the intended allocation. Ms. Farouq admitted to the commission that she was unaware of how the N206 billion was added by the ministry of finance to her ministry’s 2023 budget.
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She said that in 2022, her ministry asked for money for the National Social Safety Net Project and the North East Development Commission (NEDC), but it was not granted. She expressed amazement at the fact that the desired amount was suddenly allocated 10 times as much in the 2023 budget.
She said to the panel, “Yes we made mention of the projects for 2022 which was not released and part of it was part for the NEDC,” she told the panel. “The money was not released and now we have seen it recurring by almost 10 folds and we are also going to clarify from the Ministry of Finance to know why this increase despite the fact that the previous year, the money was not even released for the project.
“So we will get the details then send to you on that.”
Elisha Abbo, one of the panelists, bemoaned the need of calling Ms. Ahmed before the committee while the parliamentarians were debating the ministry of health and basic healthcare’s budget.
“We observed N301 billion was inserted in the budget of 2023 which will be funded through multilateral and bilateral loans. We asked the minster to give us the details of the activities and projects that will be implemented with this money and he said he wasn’t the one but that it was the Ministry of Finance.”
He bemoaned the fact that the Humanitarian ministry has had similar problems. If the N206 billion was included in MTEF, he questioned.
“We cannot continue to borrow money and plunge this country into debt for our children to come and pay without investing in what they will see.”
Yusuf Yusuf, the chairman of the committee, then made a resolution to call the finance minister to account for the N206 billion that was added into the budget.
“Now that the minister has said that she is not in charge of negotiation with the World Bank and of course she is not, the minister of finance must appear before us and explain what the huge amount is meant for,” he said.
Ms. Ahmed’s appearance before the committee has no set date.
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