Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jonathan Sneaks Budget? N30millions for Phantom Aircraft, Boats in Foreign Embassies

Jonathan Sneaks Budget? N30millions for Phantom Aircraft, Boats in Foreign Embassies
The 2014 budget presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan last week contains fraudulent request for funds.
In what clearly appears a ploy by officials to brazenly steal public funds, the Federal Government is asking the National Assembly to approve about N30million which it purportedly plans to spend on fueling aircraft and boats owned by Nigerian embassies abroad.
The fraudulent request is coming when government officials know that none of Nigeria’s foreign mission owns a plane or boat.
Details of the 2014 Federal Budget presented last week by the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to the National Assembly on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, revealed that the foreign affairs ministry is asking for about N30million to cater for these phantom expenditures.
Officials claim Nigeria’s foreign missions in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Algeria, and Mali would need an average of N1.785million each to fuel aircraft, and another N2.381million each to fuel boats during the year.
Similar provisions, concealed under the general fuel and lubricants subheads, were made for the embassies in Turkey, Lebanon, and United Arab Emirate, UAE.
The budget for the mission in Mali also has ludicrous demands for aircraft maintenance cost (N638,365); boat maintenance cost (N635,435), and railway equipment maintenance cost (N999,8240).
When released, these funds will simply go into the pockets of corrupt officials since the embassy does not own aircraft or boat and has no railway line to maintain.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ogbole Odeh, said in a telephone interview in Abuja on Tuesday that the provision for aircraft fuel cost in the budget for the foreign missions was strange, as the federal government does not maintain aircraft in any of its embassies abroad.
“Aircraft fuelling cost? This sounds strange to me. I have never heard of such,” Mr. Odeh said, in response to an enquiry. “What is normal is motor vehicle or generator fuelling costs. To the best of my knowledge, none of the Nigerian Missions abroad maintains an aircraft. Or what purpose is the railway equipment maintenance supposed to serve? I don’t know. It sounds ridiculous.”
This is not the first time when fraudulent fund requests smuggled into budgets by corrupt officials have been uncovered.
Source: Premium Times

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