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Reps accuse Okonjo-Iweala of deceiving Nigerians on budget

The House of Representatives yesterday (Wednesday) said the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala lied to Nigerians on the implementation of the 2012 budget by claiming that government had achieved 56 per cent performance.

According to spokesman for the lower chamber of federal legislature, Zakari Mohammed, “It is very clear already that she (Okonjo-Iweala) lied; she has lied to Nigerians.”

Contrary to earlier submissions by the finance minister that the budget had recorded 56 per cent implementation, documents submitted to the Senate by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday whowed that performance of the budget as of July was a mere 12.6 per cent.

The percentage was indeed lower than the 34 per cent performance the House had scored the budget which had angered the Reps and on the basis of which they had given President Goodluck Jonathan up to September to achieve 100 per cent or face impeachment proceedings.

The documents before the Senate now show that though N324.5bn (34 per cent) was cash-backed last month, only N184.84bn (12.6 per cent) was really available to Ministries Departments and Agencies of government for capital projects as at July 20.

The total capital provision in the budget is N1.5tn.

“The minister should just go and make the appropriate adjustments. It is very clear already that she lied; she has lied to Nigerians,” Mohammed said in a reaction to the new revelation on Wednesday.

However, the Federal Government has said that the controversy over the 2102 budget is a distraction to its implementation.

Federal Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, told newsmen in Abuja after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja that the protracted controversy between the Executive and the Legislature was distracting the government from effectively implementing the budget.

He said, “This controversy is distracting the implementation of the budget.

“The Coordinating Minister of the Economy (Okonjo-Iweala) will appear before the Senate. She is able, she is competent and she has the figure that won’t be contrasted.

“All of us are working. We are implementing the budget because that is what we were appointed to do.”
Maku however assured Nigerians that they would soon see an upbeat in budget implementation as soon as the various ongoing procurement processes were completed.
He said since the Appropriation Act was passed in April, it would be unfair to conclude three months after that the budget was not being implemented.
But Mohammed disagreed with Maku, arguing that what the National Assembly had done was to engage the Executive by saying that “they should do the right thing.”
“It is not a distraction at all. Rather, it is part of the way forward for this country,” he added.
The House spokesman said, “Let us be honest by telling Nigerians the truth; if there was a failure, let us admit it and we move on. Nigerians are intelligent people; some of them are more intelligent than those of us in government.
“It is just that we are privileged to be called to serve them.”
Mohammed said it was encouraging that the Senate Committee on Appropriation had come to terms with what the House had been saying about the “poor” implementation of the budget.
It would be recalled that the Senate on Tuesday had expressed anger at the poor implementation of the budget and the absence of Okonjo-Iweala at an interaction session with its appropriation committee where the minister was expected to brief Senators on the performance of the budget.
The Deputy Senate President had maintained that the finance minister must appear at the senate-executive session on Thursday (today).

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