Senate Queries N3.305bn Aso Rock’s Welfare, Meals Budget

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The
Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs has
queried the State House and the Office of the Secretary to Government of the
Federation over a budget of N3.305bn in their estimates designated for welfare
package, meals, repatriation allowances and sitting allowances. Appearing before the committee
separately on Tuesday, the agencies failed to convince the committee on the
rationale for the large amounts budgeted for the items.
While the State House voted N1.305bn
for the items, the Office of the SGF voted about N2bn for similar items in the
budget.

Permanent Secretary of the State
House, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbile, however, stunned members of the committee when he
said the N1.305bn budgeted for refreshment and meals and other miscellaneous
expenses for the 2013 fiscal year was not enough.

The total budget for the State House
for the 2013 fiscal year is N14.715bn and the State House officials were
present to defend it.
A breakdown of the Miscellaneous
sub-head in Aso Rock’s budget shows that N203.75m is allocated for refreshment
and meals, N107.4m for honorarium and sitting allowances while publicity and
advertisement will cost N37.3m.
It also includes medical expenses,
N50.3m; Postage and courier services, N10m; welfare packages, N195m; subscription
to professional bodies, N4.58m; and sporting activities, N32.91m.
The breakdown also include overtime,
N250.45m; feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary
clinic, N30.58m; Summit/Extra ordinary sessions including the UN, African
Union, ECOWAS, etc, N228.11m; and NYSC, IT, LOCUM, housemanship and contract
staff allowance, N144.78m.
Senator Isa Galaudu, a member of the
committee had raised the observation that the State House was spending too much
for the items listed and wondered why it was so.
He noted that what Nigeria spent in
one year was what South Africa spent in five years, demanding that the
Permanent Secretary should give proper explanations for the allocations.
Ogbile said, “I have taken pains to
explain that this money is not just to fund the residence of the President and
that of the Vice President. The experience I have had is that this fund is
grossly insufficient. It’s not even enough.”
He also explained that out of the
N1.305bn, “the Federal Executive Council, holds every Wednesday and we take
care of them through this budget.”
According to him, other expenses that
are taken care of in the refreshment and meals vote include National Economic
Council, Council of States, conferences in the Banquet Hall, Presidential
retreats, National Merit Award, Children’s Day, hosting of dignitaries.
Chairman of the committee, Senator
Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, faulted Ogbile’s claims on the grounds that the Merit Award
had its own budget for such ceremony .
The committee also found outrageous,
the votes of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation
for welfare packages, sitting allowance and repatriation allowances.
Source:
Punch

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