Posted by Francis Ojiah | 20 February 2014 | 3,439 times
From recent media reports, it is clear that an orchestrated campaign is being executed to rubbish the reputation of the Budget Office of the Federation. The campaign is characterised by unsubstantiated allegations and distortions against the Budget Office.
For instance, in the Vanguard and other newspapers, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives was quoted as saying that “the Office of the DG (Budget Office of the Federation) had in its recent dealings with some agencies of the Federal Government, recorded irregular financial figures which threw up some suspicions.”
Specifically, he was reported to have said that the National Hajj Commission (NHC) received only N2.089 billion instead of N7.1 billion released to the Commission by the BOF. Further, the Presidential Barracks Rehabilitation Committee (PBRC) was said to have received nothing, in contrast to the documented evidence of N865 million actually released to them in 2004 – many years before the tenure of the present Director-General.
These allegations are totally untrue. With all due respect, and for the avoidance of doubt, the BOF wishes to set the record straight:
•Records indicate that N865 million was released to the PBRC from the Service Wide Vote (SWV) in 2004 for the rehabilitation of several Barracks; and
•The NHC actually received a total of N8.25 billion between 2004 and 2013, from the SWV.
Another allegation made was that the Budget Office released the sum of N791m from the Service Wide Vote to the National Teachers Institute without a request for funds. This is also completely untrue. We are amazed that anyone can make such a ridiculous claim, given the well established reputation of the Budget Office for rigorous accountability in its procedures. Anyone familiar with the budget release processes knows that getting money out of this fund is not a walk in the park.
The truth of the matter is that the NTI made a request for the funds through a letter NTI/FIN/2012/BUD/VOL 1/12 ON October 15, 2012 requested for the release of funds to enable them pay their allowances of teachers they had trained. They were advised through another letter to await the 4th Quarter 2012 release. As it turned out, the BF could only release N791.72 million. It is therefore false to say that money was released without a request.
The records have been provided to the Committee since 2013. The Committee is always at liberty to cross-check with the BOF, any areas on which it is unclear, rather than resort to statements capable of tarnishing the image of the Director-General. The BOF stands ready, as always, to furnish the House Committee or any other appropriate body, all facts connected to its operations.
•Francis Ojiah writes from the Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance. Photo shows BOF Director-General, Dr. Bright Okogu.
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