President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday evening vowed that all those involved in the “padding” of the 2016 National Budget which led to the discrepancies in the document would face the most severe punishment.
He said the alterations which he described as embarrassing and disappointing, made the document being debated in the National Assembly completely different from what was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
According to a statement on Wednesday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke in Riyadh while addressing the Nigerian Community in Saudi Arabia.
The President was said to have condemned the distortion of the budget proposals by those he called entrenched interests.
He said since he had been holding public offices, he had never heard about budget padding before this incident.
He regretted that the unauthorised alterations had completely changed the document from the one he presented to the National Assembly.
The President however gave the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, a clean bill of health, saying he worked did a good job.
Buhari said, “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. It is very embarrassing and disappointing. We will not allow those who did it to go unpunished.”
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 is determined to tackle successfully.
“We have zero tolerance for corruption and other unethical practices. We will deal decisively with anybody found wanting,” he promised members of the Nigerian community.