Auditor–General of the Federation, AGF, Samuel Ukura, yesterday stunned members of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts when he revealed that this year’s N6.08trillion federal government’s budget estimates is envelope-based and not zero-based as pronounced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ukura explained during budget defence of his office at the National Assembly in Abuja that though the earlier intention by the present government was to adopt zero based budgeting as a template but the realities on ground later forced it to adopt the usual envelope-based budgeting.
He specifically disclosed that the N2.9billion budget estimates of his office for this year was not arrived at through zero budgeting but handed over to them as an enveloped one by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Budgets of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government this year are all enveloped based and not zero based as it has been the case over the years, including that of my office, which is even largely done for us by the supervising ministry,” he said.
Even when reminded by Senators Akpan Bassey (PDP, Akwa Ibom North East) and Foster Ogola (PDP, Bayelsa West) that his submission on the 2016 budget template ran contrary to the earlier one made before the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in December last year when he presented the budget, he said: “This year’s budget is enveloped, and not zero based in anyway”.
His words: “It is envelope. The zero-based budgeting they wanted to introduce was not adhered to, at the end of the day. In zero-based budgeting, it is assumed that such expenditure does not exist, you start from zero and justify why that expenditure must be used.
“And at the end of it, the result you are going to get out of it. So, it is a system which is good and which would have also helped to set targets, but that wasn’t applied at the end of the day, perhaps because it was hurriedly being introduced.”
He also remarked that “budget proposal and by extension, defence, is not about fighting but discussing on what is made available for one to work it, because what they want, they give”.
Ukura was also taken up by the committee members on why his office has not deemed it fit to audit the account of Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR for always budgeting N32billion for recurrent expenditure covering staff strength of about 1, 400, the same staff strength of the AGF’s office with N1.8billion votes for recurrent expenditure.
The committee members said they were not impressed with his presentation and performance in office so far.
Specifically, they said it was very amazing to them, for not a single audit alarm raised from his office in the face of series of grafts being carried out in various government offices through budget padding under recurrent and overhead votes to outright stealing.
The committee through its chairman, Senator Andy Ubah (PDP Anambra South), however sympathised with his office for being underfunded.
According to him, it is unacceptable for a very important audit office of the federation to be allocated a paltry sum of N654million for auditing of N6.08trillion budget profile, vowing to work towards increasing the office votes in the budget on operational template.
“If you are not adequately funded, you are exposed to corruption and this committee will not allow that to happen,” he said.


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