President Muhammadu Buhari wednesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia vowed to punish all those involved in the “padding” of the 2016 budget, even as he admitted that alterations in the budget had completely changed the Appropriation Bill from the one he presented to the National Assembly.
The president said anyone found to have been involved would face the most severe punishment.
Addressing the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia, Buhari condemned the distortion of the budget proposals by entrenched interests.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted the president as stating that the unauthorised alterations had completely changed the document he presented to the National Assembly.
“The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund.
“Never had I heard the words ‘budget padding’. Our Minister of Budget and National Planning did a great job with his team. The minister became almost half his size during the time, working night and day to get the budget ready, only for some people to pad it.
“What he gave us was not what was finally being debated (at the National Assembly). It is very embarrassing and disappointing. We will not allow those who did it to go unpunished,” Buhari vowed.
The president also assured members of the Nigerian community that his administration was working diligently to fulfill its campaign promises, particularly on security, unemployment and corruption.
Reaffirming his government’s zero tolerance for corruption, Buhari said the war against corruption was a monumental task that he was determined to tackle successfully.
“We have zero tolerance for corruption and other unethical practices. We will deal decisively with anybody found wanting,” he promised the Nigerian community.
Buhari also used the opportunity of the gathering to brief Nigerians in Saudi Arabia on his administration’s efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.
“Our armed forces have done a great job of dealing decisively with Boko Haram. We are collaborating with our neighbours in the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force to handle security threats in the sub-region and we have significantly destroyed the capacity of the insurgents,” the president said.
He also spoke on efforts being made to diversify the Nigerian economy, stressing that more opportunities were now open for local and foreign investors in the country.