The Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Babajide Omoworare has revealed that the Senate has always received already padded budget before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The second term senator made this revelation during a radio interview at Rythm FM in Abuja.
Omoworare said: “After spending about five years now in the senate, I make bold to say there is no budget that has come to us that has not been already padded before it get to us.”
Omoworare disclosed that the budget padding has been a traditional tool in the hands of the budget drafters to manipulate the budget, create loopholes and steal from the nation.
But the present regime of change under President Muhamadu Buhari has made it almost impossible to continue on that trend, Omoworare said.
He said: “How do you explain an embarrassing situation where the Minister of Health, Prof Issac Adewole found a different budget from the one approved by his office during budget defence or a discovery of about two hundred billion naira budget head duplications all due to sharp practices?”
Reacting to the accusation of silence overtime, the Senator said he has always been a voice against this practice but being in the opposition, majority has always prevailed.
Omoworare said: “I spoke against the bogus N7 billion Abuja City gate, the first lady mission house and other monumental wastes injected into previous budgets.
“To have a holistic solution to this infidelity, I have proposed a National Assembly Budget and Research Office bill to enhance budget scrutiny capacity of the National Assembly, inject sanity, accountability and transparency into our appropriation system. When it is passed, it will give legal teeth to our budget scrutiny and research mechanism at the National Assembly.”
Omoworare said the bill has passed a second reading with overwhelming acceptance from the Senators and when eventually passed and accented to, padding and other evil practices of corruption bedeviling our appropriation system will become greatly reduced.
Constitutionally and traditionally, budget should be a document of the legislature with liberty to tinker with and effect necessary adjustments, but endemic corruption in our system has always impede this role of the lawmakers the past culture of anything goes and time constrain also affects us”, he said.
The Senator also alluded to the fact that the budgets of the past has always been brought padded and manipulated from the bureaucracy that eventually executes it and that no matter how dexterous and vigilant the lawmakers may be, there is little they can do given the limited time, pressure from the people and eagerness to get it done on time.
Omoworare said the lawmakers must not be outrightly blamed for budget padding but the entire system .He explained that the previous Federal Executive who have allowed the culture of padding to grow and some corrupt civil servants who are yet to wake of the reality of the anti corruption drive of the Buhari and APC Presidency must also be held responsible.
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