President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday promised to ensure that the 2017 Budget is not padded like the 2016 budget.
He said he would never allow “rogue projects and figures” to be injected into the financial document again under his watch.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement quoted Buhari as making the promise while receiving members of the Governance Support Group led by Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“I am waiting for the 2017 Budget to be brought to us in council. Any sign of padding anywhere, I will remove it,” Buhari told his guests.
He reiterated his position that since 1975 that he had been holding public offices such as military governor, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Head of State and chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, he never heard about budget padding up until 2016 when he prepared his first budget as a civilian President.
Buhari promised that such distortions in the budget would never happen again under his watch.
The President said the government stands by its campaign promises of securing the country, reviving the economy and fighting corruption, adding that people do not want to reflect on the prevailing economic situation, by living as if it was business as usual.
The statement added that the President decried the violence that greeted rerun elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states, noting that he had no business being in office if his government could not guarantee credible elections. He, however, assured his guests that the governorship election in Ondo State holding on Saturday (today) would be better than that of Edo State.
It added, “I agonised over the elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Rivers states. We should have passed the stage in which people are beheaded, and killed because of who occupies certain offices,” he added.
Speaking on the anti-corruption cases before the courts, Buhari said he believed the cleansing currently going on “will lead to a better judiciary,” adding, “When people are sentenced, Nigerians will believe that we are serious with the anti-corruption war,” he sai
He promised that beyond the progress being made in the agriculture and solid minerals sectors, there would be more attention on cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel and other grains. “We can start exporting rice in 18 months, and we are getting fertilizers and pesticides in readiness for next year,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of members of GSG, Nwajiuba said the government had succeeded to a large extent on the security and anti-corruption fronts, adding that the group was positive that the economy would soon experience a turnaround, “as the government is working very hard in that direction.”
The group said the biggest constituency of the President was the poor and lowly, and thus recommended what it calls “a social re-armament of the poor.”