How Presidency’s consultants bungled
Though, it’s Director – General , Alhaji Yahaya Aliyu Gusau has paid dearly with his job for the padding and inconsistencies in the N6.08 trillion 2016 Federal Budget of President Muhammadu Buhari , some key officials of the Budget Office of the Federal Government confided in some journalists at the weekend that the whole problem was actually caused by the Presidency who abandoned the bureaucrats in the Budget Office who traditionally prepare budgets for a Department for Internal Development (DFID) consultant it hired to prepare the 2016 plan.
The DFID is a UK-government department responsible for administering overseas aid.
But in a swift reaction, a top functionary in the Presidency who did not want to be named yesterday described the allegation as a rumor from the dark world seeking to tarnish the good work of the Buhari Administration.
The official insisted that the bureaucrats in the Budget Office were fully involved in every process of the preparation and described those shifting the blame for the tardiness in the budget documents as cowards and challenged them to come up clean with evidence that they were alienated.
“ As far as I am concerned, it’s a rumor from a the pit of darkness trying to be loud light. I can’t react to a rumor. If they are sure of their fact, let them document it and show evidence of alienation. All I can tell you is that it’s not true. The Budget Office was fully involved, such faceless people do not warrant attention or a response,” said the official , his seething anger quite discernible on the phone.
However, according to the Budget Office staff who opened up under very strict confidentiality conditions, the consultants from a DFID funded Federal Public Administration Reform Programme Nigeria (FEPAR) “ with no experience in budget preparation” were recruited to handle the 2016 budget.
Specifically, the Budget Officers who alleged they were sidelined in the process squarely accused the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, asserting that it was in the Vice President’s zeal to drive the Zero-Base-Budget principle which is still alien to the Federal Government.
According to the Bureaucrats: “ FEPAR’s appointment was not even tendered and there was no inputs from the Budget office of the federation (BOF) on its appointment as well as scrutiny of its technical know-how on national budget. The consultant prepared the 2016 budget which has been mired in controversies since its submission to the national assembly last December.”
The Federal Public Administration Reform Programme (FEPAR) a DFID funded intervention was designed to provide technical assistance to key Public Service institutions in Nigeria. The purpose of FEPAR is to strengthen core Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) systems and its capacity to deliver public services, with the overall goal of a more capable and accountable Government of Nigeria.
FEPAR focuses on five reform areas including support to central policy and planning coordination, civil service reform, public financial management, service improvement and external accountability.
The sources maintained that the Budget Office which is saddled with such responsibility was excluded from the process that has now led to a budget with errors and repetitions borne out of the fact that the FEPAR template is not Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS )compliant format.
Also, multiple errors occurred from FEPAR’s efforts to convert the MDAs’ submissions to GIFMIS compliant format.
Again they averred: “ The process for the budget was entirely run by FEPAR and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning MBNP, bodies that are alien to budget preparation and procedures.
“ The system of FGN budgeting in previous years was different from the Zero-Base- Budgeting (ZBB) which the current government has adopted and the tool used in the past is GIFMIS but all efforts to get FEPAR align its template to GIFMIS was resisted, “ they further contended.
Controversies had trailed this year’s fiscal instruments. First, the 2016 budget was in violation of the stipulation of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC). Fiscal Responsibility Act has stipulated that a new budget should be presented to the federal lawmakers, four months before the expiration of the current one.
The 2016 budget was presented to the national assembly on December 22, four months behind schedule.
Second was the declaration by the federal lawmakers that the budget proposal was missing.
The country was later shocked with the news that the budget was padded while ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) denied the figures during
Revelations however from the presidency shows that the fault emanated from the Vice-President’s office that contracted FEPAR, a consultant with no experience in budget preparation to work on the nation’s budget.
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