From Fred Itua, Abuja
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, yesterday, disclosed that N400 million has been budgeted for the purchase of vehicles for former presidents and heads of state.
The SGF said they are entitled to brand new vehicles every four years.
He also disclosed that the allowances for former presidents has been sufficiently covered in the 2017 budget, although it was not openly budgeted for in the Appropropriation Bill.
The SGF said this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, to defend his office’s budget, following insistence of members of the panel for him to so do.
The SGF, who was billed to appear before the committee last week, said his absence was because he went to condole with bereaved families, particularly that of the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, over the loss of his first wife. She was buried last weekend.
The meeting between the SGF and the committee, which lasted over 45 minutes, was presided over by the chairman, Senator Tijjani Kaura.
Giving a brief on the 2017 budget proposal of his office, Lawal said his office proposed N9.8 billion for the year.
Out of the said amount, he said N3,408,763,591, was proposed for payment of personnel costs; N3,781,628,226 for overheads, a figure which shows an increase of N2 billion compared to 2016 appropriation.
According to the SGF, the amount proposed for overheads would be used for funding the activities and programmes of other offices headed by the permanent secretaries in the OSGF, and activities and programmes of political office holders, such as special advisers and senior special assistants to the president.
Lawal said his office also budgeted N2,692,391,118 for capital projects for the year 2017.
He lamented that funds appropriated to his office, in the 2016 budget, was grossly inadequate to meet some of the responsibilities of the office.
In their separate responses, members of the committee, agreed with Lawal that the 10 per cent released by the Ministry of Finance for his office, in 2016, was insufficient, particularly, against the backdrop of what was proposed.
The amount, which according to them was insufficient, was indication that there was a problem between the budget office and ministry of Finance that needed to be tackled.
Committee chairman, Kaura described Lawal’s request for increased funding as “justified,” and noted that the meeting was “aimed at understanding, better, the performance of previous budget and proposal of this year’s budget.”