N11bn addition to defence budget uncovered, minister queried

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The Senate on Thursday took up the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd) on insertion of N11bn in the proposed 2023 budget of the defence ministry.

The Senate Committee on Defence uncovered the gap during the defence of the entire proposals of the minister.

The N11bn extra, as observed and pointed out by the Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Itsifanus Gyang (PDP Plateau North), comprises N8.6bn earmarked for the procurement of military hardware /equipment and N2.25bn for safe school initiatives.

He said, “Honourable minister, in the proposed 2023 budget of your ministry, N8.6bn is discovered to have been allocated for the purchase of military hardware and N2.25bn for safe SCHOOL initiatives

“The two items, when critically viewed, were not supposed to be in the ministry’s budget since hardware procurements are done by the Army, Navy and Air Force and Safe School Initiative by the Federal Ministry of Education.

“These to us are duplications of budgetary votes which require explanations from you.”

The minister, in his response, sought permission from the committee for the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Ibrahim Kana, to respond.

The permanent secretary, in his response, told the committee that the sums were added to the ministry’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year by the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

“The two budgetary votes were not initiative of the ministry. The Ministry of Finance and National Planning put them there,” he added.

Not satisfied with the explanation offered by the permanent secretary, the committee, through its Chairman, Senator Aliyu Wamakko (APC Sokoto North) told the minister that both the N8.6bn and N2.25bn proposals for the procurement of hardware and safe school initiatives would be expunged from the ministry’s budget.

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