President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in a move to douse the tension over the 2016 budget controversy, fired the Director-General for Budget, Mr Yaya Gusau, and announced a replacement in the person of Mr. Tijjani Abdullahi.
Similarly, Mr. Ben Akabueze was appointed Special Adviser to the President on National Planning. The two appointments take immediate effect. President Buhari also appointed former House of Representatives member, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa as his Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora.
The President also sacked heads of 26 federal parastatals, agencies and commissions. The sack of the Director-General, Budget Office and heads of other parastatals is coming on the heels of President Buhari’s sack of some university vice-chancellors. The President also, yesterday, approved the immediate disengagement of 26 chief executive officers of some federal parastatals, agencies and commissions.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal in a statement, said those affected in the gale of sack include head of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA; Mr. Sola Omole; heads of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN; Voice of Nigeria, VON; News Agency of Nigeria, NAN ; National Broadcasting Commission, NBC and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF. Others were New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD; Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF; Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB; Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN; Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund; National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA and the Petroleum Equalization Fund.
The list of those whose chief executives were sacked also includes Nigeria Railways Corporation, NRC; Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP; Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE; Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA; Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON; National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC; Nigeria Investment Promotion Council, NIPC; Bank of Industry, BoI; National Centre for Women Development, NCWD; National Orientation Agency, NOA; Industrial Training Fund, ITF; Nigerian Export-Import Bank as well as the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic In Persons and Other Related Matters, NAPTIP.
The President also directed the most senior officers in the parastatals, agencies and commissions to oversee the activities of the organisations pending the appointment of substantive Chief Executive Officers.
According to a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the new DG Budget, Mr. Abdullahi, “is a fellow of the Certified National Accountants of Nigeria, and a banker of repute with experience in managing public finance, who will now replace the current Director-General (Budget), Mr. Yahaya Gusau. The new Director-General of Budget is expected to work with the Minister of Budget and National Planning to efficiently deliver on the mandates of the Budget Office of the Federation.
According to the statement, President Buhari has also approved the appointment of Mr Akabueze as the Special Adviser to the President on National Planning. Akabueze who is the immediate past Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State, has worked in senior management positions in Citi Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa, NAL Merchant Bank, Sterling Bank and BIA Consulting Limited, among others. He is Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers; Fellow, Institute of Credit Administrators.” Budget of controversy It will be recalled that 2016 budget had sparked off controversy, with the legislature accusing the Executive of padding and doctoring provisions made by ministries departments and agencies of government.
The controversy deepened when the Federal Ministry of Health disowned the budget proposal submitted on its behalf by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, who addressed the Senate Committee on Health during its budget defence session, said the proposal drawn up by the ministry and submitted to the budget office had been doctored and that “foreign” appropriations, different from what was submitted, had been smuggled in. “We have to look into the details of the budget and re-submit it to the committee,” he said. “This was not what we submitted. We will submit another one. We do not want anything foreign to creep into that budget. What we submitted is not there.”
Earlier the Senate had discovered a sum of N10 billion “questionably smuggled” into the budget of the Ministry of Education for an allegedly questionable subhead. A senior Presidency official told newsmen that a “budget mafia” was responsible for the embarrassing allocations in the budget. Just last week, the newly set up unit of the federal ministry of Finance disclosed that Federal government spent N825 billion in three years on travels, maintenance, local and international training, welfare and office stationery / computer consumables.
The head of the Efficiency unit set up by the Ministry of Finance Patience Oniha to streamline government overhead expenditure, said that from the study of government overhead expenditure it carried out between 2012 and 2014 on the average 60 per cent of federal government overhead expenditure were incurred through local and international travels, maintenance, local and international training, welfare, office stationary and consumables, honourarium and sitting allowance, meals and refreshment and books. According to Oniha the Unit, which carried out an extensive and detailed review of the Overhead Expenditure data of the government for the period 2012 to 2014, found that the overhead spending pattern was concentrated on a limited number of items including travel, maintenance, local and international training, welfare and office stationery / computer consumables. Ms Patience Oniha, stated that “The Cumulative Expenditure on these five items was N825 billion, representing 61 per cent of the Cumulative Total Overhead Expenditure of N1, 353 billion for 2012 to 2014. This means that the average amount expended annually on these five items during this period was N275 billion.
The estimate for 2015 shows a continuation of this trend.” Overhead spending exceeded allocations to capital in all the years reviewed. Omeri hands over at NOA, Ekeoba becomes Acting DG Meanwhile, Mr. Mike Agbo Omeri, immediate past Director General of NOA, has handed over the leadership of the agency to Mrs. Ngozi Ekeoba who is the most senior director and in charge of Political, Civics, Ethics and Values at the agency.
In a brief handover session, Omeri expressed gratitude to the past and present administrations for the opportunity given him to serve the nation as NOA Director General and for the support given to the agency during his tenure. He thanked staff of the agency for their cooperation and promised to remain an advocate of the agency in terms of autonomy and funding to enable the agency deliver on its mandate.