The Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs were told yesterday that a whopping N1, 305, 292, 050 billion had been set aside in the 2013 budget for refreshment, meals and other miscellaneous expenses in the State House.
Even at that, the State House Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbile, who defended the budget told the lawmakers that the amount was inadequate. He had appeared before the Committee to defend their N14, 715,566,104billion budgetary proposal for 2013 fiscal year.
A breakdown of the miscellaneous expenses in the budget proposal showed that the sum of N203, 753m was allocated for refreshment and meals, N107,413m for honorarium and sitting allowances while N37,277,825 was budgeted for publicity and advertisement.
Others include medical expenses of N50.308m; postage and courier services would gulp N10, 035,583m, welfare packages were allotted N195.066m; subscription to professional bodies got N4,589,793m and sporting activities, which was given N32,910,730.
Overtime was also allocation the sum of N250,455,589 while feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary clinic got N30,584m s, Summit/ Extra ordinary sessions, including the UN, African Union, ECOWAS, etc, has N228,112,862 while NYSC, IT, LOCUM, housemanship and contract staff allowance has N144,788,555.
These figures, Ogbile said, were insuffiicient.
However, Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Isa Galaudu responded to Ogbile wherein he noted that Nigeria’s budget in one year was equivalent to what South Africa spends in five years.
But Ogbile was not ready to take that, saying: “I have taken pains to explain that this money is not just to fund the residence of the President and that of the Vice President. The experience I have had is that this fund is grossly insufficient. It’s not even enough.”
He further explained that out of the N1.305 billion, “The Federal Executive Council (FEC) holds every Wednesday and we take care of them through this budget”, he said.
Nonetheless, he listed other expenses that fall within the refreshment and meals vote to include National Economic Council (NEC), Council of States, conferences in the Banquet Hall, presidential retreats, National Merit Award, Children’s Day, hosting of dignitaries, and so on.
Chairman of the Committee, Dahiru Awaisu Kuta however reminded Ogbile that the Merit Award was always provided for in an entirely different budget line.