Senate queries Defence Minister after discovering additional N11bn in ministry’s budget

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BY MAYOWA SAMUEL

Uba Group

The Senate on Thursday, queried the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.), over an additional of N11 billion discovered in the Ministry’s proposed 2023 budget.

The Senate Committee on Defence uncovered the N11bn difference in the 2023 budget of the ministry 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, 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, “Hon. 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, 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 said.

Apparently not satisfied with the explanation offered by the Permanent Secretary, the committee through its Chairman, 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.