Buhari To Sack Top Civil Servants For Sabotaging 2016 Budget

Some top officials of the federal government are about to lose their jobs for allegedly attempting to inflate the 2016 budget by over N1.7trillion, The Nation can reveal.

The unnamed officials are said to have embarrassed the Presidency by smuggling into the budget proposals such items as vote for Aso Rock Clinic and some communication equipment.

Most of those affected belong to the “Budget Mafia” in the civil service, which has been uncovered by the presidency.

The list of all the culprits was being compiled last night following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Budget Mafia, sources said last night, decided to jack up the budget proposal by N1.7trillion after learning that the budget for this year would be in the region of N8trillion.

The presidency also discovered that the civil servants recommended N3 trillion for overhead alone.

This has now been slashed to N163billion as against the N177billion last year.

The mafia was said to have been shocked when  Buhari opted for a N6.08trillion budget, which was presented to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.

Investigation revealed that the top civil servants in the “Budget Mafia” almost scuttled the preparation of the budget because of the inclusion of many extraneous items.

Some of the 6,000 items in the 2016 Budget were said to have been smuggled into the proposals by the cartel.

The padding of the 2016 Appropriation by the affected top civil servants almost marred the presentation of the estimates to the National Assembly, sources said last night.

“Some top civil servants sabotaged the presidency by including extraneous items in the 2016 Budget,” one source said last night.

“Members of the Budget Mafia are spread across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“When the budget was being compiled, they frustrated all the deadlines set by the presidency.

“Despite the vigilance of Buhari and his cabinet, it was embarrassing to the government to hear of some smuggled items.

“Bureaucratic resistance and entrenched systemic corrupt practices dogged every move of the presidency to produce proposals reflecting financial prudence and frugality, during the preparation of the 2016 Budget now before the National Assembly.

“For instance, after learning that the presidency was considering a large budget of possibly N8 trillion in order to significantly increase capital expenditure, bureaucrats brought a proposal of N9.7 trillion for overhead and capital spending even without personnel spending.

“Of the proposed N9.7 trillion, the bureaucrats planned to spend an alarming N3 trillion on overhead alone but the presidency eventually slashed this to N163b lower by 8% than 2015 budget which was N177billion, indicating massive cut of some of the main provisions by the Buhari presidency.

“These bureaucrats also proposed to spend N2.1 trillion on personnel for the 2016 estimates compared to about N1.8 trillion in the 2015 budget.

“But the presidency also cut this down to N1.7 trillion in the final estimates sent to the legislature.”

Another source, who played a key role in the final filtration of the budget, said the “smuggling of some items angered President Buhari.

He added: “Some people were so bent on exploiting the system that the time was simply not sufficient to stop them but since the budget is only an estimate, the implementation part now offers the presidency the opportunity to tame the corrupt intentions and practices.

“We were virtually doing vigil to beat the time since the budget had to be presented before the end of the year to the National Assembly and while some of the civil servants eventually cooperated, those who were resistant caused the insertions of many of the provisions that are now embarrassing the government.

“The situation and its fallout were so bad that it provoked the annoyance of the President who nonetheless kept his cool buying time so as to meet the target date for the presentation of the budget in line with extant laws and regulations governing the budget process.

“Many of the controversial provisions in the budget were essentially smuggled-in by what was described as “the Budget Mafia” in the civil service, made up of people who consider the period of budgeting as their time of massive opportunity to arrange the stealing of public funds.

“Even the process of costing some of the expenditures was also encumbered when the agency of government responsible for maintaining a price reference list -the Bureau of Public Procurement -was not ready with an updated list, maintaining instead a list prepared in 2013. Experts said the list ought to be updated quarterly.

“Many of the provisions that have drawn the ire of the public managed to sail through the budget with more than 6000 items in all because supervision was made even more difficult with the uncooperative attitude of the senior bureaucrats and their subordinates who were themselves expected to be involved in the supervisory process

“While the President stands for prudence and against waste, those controversial provisions clearly don’t represent these presidential standards.”

A third source in the presidency confirmed that some top civil servants will be sacked by the President.

He said: “Several top civil servants involved in the resistance would be fired soon.

“Many of the officials involved are living in fear of being sacked considering the public reactions to many of the controversial provisions which were not cleared by the presidency.

“At that point, the sack of some of the arrow-heads of this resistance was considered but the counsel to be careful in dealing with them prevailed so as not to truncate the process that has been in place already.”

The source gave an insight into the conspiracy by the top civil servants against Buhari’s government.

He said: “The presidency engaged the skills of experts with required capacity to help in the budgeting process, especially with the  adoption of the Zero-Based Budgeting as against the usual envelope and incremental system used in years past by the federal government.

“Zero-Based Budgeting proceeds on the basis of justifying needs and costs rather than the annually incremental approach that transfers expenses from previous budgets with added upward reviews.

”The old approach having been mastered by bureaucrats and past public officials including former ministers often leads to several acts of corruption both by civil servants and political appointees.

“Although the presidency had been planning on the adoption of the Zero-Based Budget with top officials from the then Budget Office and then National Planning Commission few months after taking over mid-year 2015, when both agencies were merged into the new Ministry of Budget and National Planning and a minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma was assigned to the ministry, the civil servants simply refused to brief him on the Zero-Based Budget and efforts already made.

“For weeks after the minister was sworn in, the bureaucrats kept planning on the old budget model, stalling the decision to use the Zero-Based Budget until the new Minister found out from the presidency.

“This stalling led to the waste of valuable time and sources said the bureaucrats had calculated that once time becomes of essence, the presidency would be forced to abandon the Zero-Based Budget.

“However, the presidency regrouped the budget planning efforts around the concept of Zero-Based Budget by early December when the Budget Minister, now aware of the Zero-Based Budget, took control and leadership of the process.

“Even after that some of the bureaucrats did not cooperate taking longer than required time to come back with revisions to their estimates that were recommended and ratified by the presidency.

”In the process many of the provisions already marked down for revision simply got snuck in, effectively pushing the presidency in the defensive in the backlash in the public arena.

“Some of the duplications noticed in the budget were due to the difficulties experienced by the software that had been in use for planning the budget in the past, which does not easily accommodate the Zero-Based Budget templates.”

ome top officials of the federal government are about to lose their jobs for allegedly attempting to inflate the 2016 budget by over N1.7trillion, The Nation can reveal.

The unnamed officials are said to have embarrassed the Presidency by smuggling into the budget proposals such items as vote for Aso Rock Clinic and some communication equipment.

Most of those affected belong to the “Budget Mafia” in the civil service, which has been uncovered by the presidency.

The list of all the culprits was being compiled last night following a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Budget Mafia, sources said last night, decided to jack up the budget proposal by N1.7trillion after learning that the budget for this year would be in the region of N8trillion.

The presidency also discovered that the civil servants recommended N3 trillion for overhead alone.

This has now been slashed to N163billion as against the N177billion last year.

The mafia was said to have been shocked when  Buhari opted for a N6.08trillion budget, which was presented to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.

Investigation revealed that the top civil servants in the “Budget Mafia” almost scuttled the preparation of the budget because of the inclusion of many extraneous items.

Some of the 6,000 items in the 2016 Budget were said to have been smuggled into the proposals by the cartel.

The padding of the 2016 Appropriation by the affected top civil servants almost marred the presentation of the estimates to the National Assembly, sources said last night.

“Some top civil servants sabotaged the presidency by including extraneous items in the 2016 Budget,” one source said last night.

“Members of the Budget Mafia are spread across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“When the budget was being compiled, they frustrated all the deadlines set by the presidency.

“Despite the vigilance of Buhari and his cabinet, it was embarrassing to the government to hear of some smuggled items.

“Bureaucratic resistance and entrenched systemic corrupt practices dogged every move of the presidency to produce proposals reflecting financial prudence and frugality, during the preparation of the 2016 Budget now before the National Assembly.

“For instance, after learning that the presidency was considering a large budget of possibly N8 trillion in order to significantly increase capital expenditure, bureaucrats brought a proposal of N9.7 trillion for overhead and capital spending even without personnel spending.

“Of the proposed N9.7 trillion, the bureaucrats planned to spend an alarming N3 trillion on overhead alone but the presidency eventually slashed this to N163b lower by 8% than 2015 budget which was N177billion, indicating massive cut of some of the main provisions by the Buhari presidency.

“These bureaucrats also proposed to spend N2.1 trillion on personnel for the 2016 estimates compared to about N1.8 trillion in the 2015 budget.

“But the presidency also cut this down to N1.7 trillion in the final estimates sent to the legislature.”

Another source, who played a key role in the final filtration of the budget, said the “smuggling of some items angered President Buhari.

He added: “Some people were so bent on exploiting the system that the time was simply not sufficient to stop them but since the budget is only an estimate, the implementation part now offers the presidency the opportunity to tame the corrupt intentions and practices.

“We were virtually doing vigil to beat the time since the budget had to be presented before the end of the year to the National Assembly and while some of the civil servants eventually cooperated, those who were resistant caused the insertions of many of the provisions that are now embarrassing the government.

“The situation and its fallout were so bad that it provoked the annoyance of the President who nonetheless kept his cool buying time so as to meet the target date for the presentation of the budget in line with extant laws and regulations governing the budget process.

“Many of the controversial provisions in the budget were essentially smuggled-in by what was described as “the Budget Mafia” in the civil service, made up of people who consider the period of budgeting as their time of massive opportunity to arrange the stealing of public funds.

“Even the process of costing some of the expenditures was also encumbered when the agency of government responsible for maintaining a price reference list -the Bureau of Public Procurement -was not ready with an updated list, maintaining instead a list prepared in 2013. Experts said the list ought to be updated quarterly.

“Many of the provisions that have drawn the ire of the public managed to sail through the budget with more than 6000 items in all because supervision was made even more difficult with the uncooperative attitude of the senior bureaucrats and their subordinates who were themselves expected to be involved in the supervisory process

“While the President stands for prudence and against waste, those controversial provisions clearly don’t represent these presidential standards.”

A third source in the presidency confirmed that some top civil servants will be sacked by the President.

He said: “Several top civil servants involved in the resistance would be fired soon.

“Many of the officials involved are living in fear of being sacked considering the public reactions to many of the controversial provisions which were not cleared by the presidency.

“At that point, the sack of some of the arrow-heads of this resistance was considered but the counsel to be careful in dealing with them prevailed so as not to truncate the process that has been in place already.”

The source gave an insight into the conspiracy by the top civil servants against Buhari’s government.

He said: “The presidency engaged the skills of experts with required capacity to help in the budgeting process, especially with the  adoption of the Zero-Based Budgeting as against the usual envelope and incremental system used in years past by the federal government.

“Zero-Based Budgeting proceeds on the basis of justifying needs and costs rather than the annually incremental approach that transfers expenses from previous budgets with added upward reviews.

”The old approach having been mastered by bureaucrats and past public officials including former ministers often leads to several acts of corruption both by civil servants and political appointees.

“Although the presidency had been planning on the adoption of the Zero-Based Budget with top officials from the then Budget Office and then National Planning Commission few months after taking over mid-year 2015, when both agencies were merged into the new Ministry of Budget and National Planning and a minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma was assigned to the ministry, the civil servants simply refused to brief him on the Zero-Based Budget and efforts already made.

“For weeks after the minister was sworn in, the bureaucrats kept planning on the old budget model, stalling the decision to use the Zero-Based Budget until the new Minister found out from the presidency.

“This stalling led to the waste of valuable time and sources said the bureaucrats had calculated that once time becomes of essence, the presidency would be forced to abandon the Zero-Based Budget.

“However, the presidency regrouped the budget planning efforts around the concept of Zero-Based Budget by early December when the Budget Minister, now aware of the Zero-Based Budget, took control and leadership of the process.

“Even after that some of the bureaucrats did not cooperate taking longer than required time to come back with revisions to their estimates that were recommended and ratified by the presidency.

”In the process many of the provisions already marked down for revision simply got snuck in, effectively pushing the presidency in the defensive in the backlash in the public arena.

“Some of the duplications noticed in the budget were due to the difficulties experienced by the software that had been in use for planning the budget in the past, which does not easily accommodate the Zero-Based Budget templates.”

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