Senate Summons Finance Minister Over Unexplained N206bn In Humanitarian Ministry’s Budget

The has summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, to explain an allocation of N206 billion inserted into the 2023 budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Senate Summons Finance Minister Over Unexplained N206bn In Humanitarian Ministry's Budget

The Senate, through its committee on Special Duties, asked that Ms Ahmed appear before it with details and plans for the allocation made despite the country’s dwindling revenue and struggling economy.

The resolution to invite the minister was made during the budget defence session of the on Monday.

It was a sequel to the inability of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, ’s inability to provide details of the proposed allocation. Ms Farouq told the panel that she did not know how the N206 billion was inserted into her ministry’s 2023 budget by the ministry of finance.

She explained that her ministry, in 2022 requested funds for some projects for the North East Development Commission (NEDC) and the National Social Safety Net Project – which was not released. She said she was surprised that ten times the requested fund was now allocated in the 2023 budget.

“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 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 and then send them to you on that.”

A member of the panel, Elisha Abbo, lamented how the committee had to summon Ms Ahmed days ago when the lawmakers considered the budget of the ministry of health and primary health care.

“We observed N301 billion was inserted in the budget of 2023 which will be funded through multilateral and bilateral loans. We asked the minister 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 complained that similar issues have come up with the Humanitarian ministry. He wondered if the N206 billion was captured in MTEF.

“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.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Yusuf Yusuf, thereafter, moved a motion to summon the finance minister and give an explanation about the N206 billion inserted in 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.

However, No date was given for Ms Ahmed to appear before the committee.

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