The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has explained why the government paid N40 million to a former president, instead of buying vehicles as prescribed by law.
Mr. Mustapha said the decision was adopted so the former leaders could purchase vehicles they prefer.
He said this on Thursday at the 2018 budget defence session before members of the Senate committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
Mr. Mustapha said that the former leaders are entitled to the vehicles according to law.
“They are entitled to that by law. We took a decision that instead of buying these vehicles, we should give them the money and let them buy vehicles of their choices. One of them qualified for it this year and that was why the N40 million was paid. The remaining, hopefully will qualify for it next year or thereabout.”
A member of the committee, Duro Faseyi, Ekiti-PDP, was however not satisfied with the explanation. He asked the SGF to explain if the move was consistent with the 2017 Appropriation Act.
“You said you monetised and you said there is a law; does that law supersede the appropriation law?” he asked. “Because what we passed in the appropriation law is seven numbers of vehicles. There is no clause that said you should give them money. By giving them money, to me, is against the appropriation act. Was there any recurrent to the National Assembly that you are giving money contrary to what we passed?”
Mr. Mustapha did not quote a law to back his earlier claim, rather, he explained that the move was in tandem with ‘government policies.’
“I quite understand that there is an appropriation but there are other government policies especially when it comes to the issue of monetisation of vehicles particularly. I believe that it also applies to the National Assembly.
“They are elder statesmen. Probably, the kind of vehicles that we want to buy for them may not be their preference. We are even talking about Prado jeeps here, a lot of them might not be disposed to riding Prado jeeps because of age. They might want a salon because that is the one that will provide them with maximum comfort. Because they are elder statesmen, we defer to that and there were circulars to that effect that it can be monetised and their money given to them so that they can buy vehicles of their choices. It’s across board; all of them that have served as presidents, vice presidents and heads of states.”
Mr. Mustapha informed the Senators that his office has introduced a tracking mechanism to track spending of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
“We have put in place an area of counselling yesterday for ministers to give an in depth report on the appropriation of 2016 and 2017. We have institutionalised a tracking method where every minster will come from now till next month to track the memos. All the contracts of the memo. I sought for the approval of Mr. President on this. We have circularised amongst all ministers,” he said.
For 2018, the Office of the Secretary of the Government of Federation proposed N9.81 billion budget with a personnel cost of N3.4 billion overhead cost, N3.9 billion, and capital, N2.5 billion.
Mr. Mustapha pleaded with the lawmakers to pass the budget expeditiously in order to beat the challenges of election year and to enable the executive switch to the new fiscal calendar.