President Muhammad Buhari has directed that the draft 2016 appropriation budget, now before the National Assembly should be uploaded on the website of the budget office so that Nigerians can read it with a view to making their observations.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who stated this in a statement on Sunday said the government has taken the position because it is the only way the change promised the country will have a meaning.
With online publication of the budget, Garba said the suggestions that the Presidency is misleading the public on any aspects of the budget can no longer stand the test of time, adding that President Buhari will continue to welcome well-meaning criticism of its policies, its budget and expenditure.
Responding to a report that the the President is to spend more on State House Clinic than on all federal govt-owned teaching hospitals in the 2016 budget, he said that the Budget Office supplied a summary of the allocations to the various sectors under the Ministry of Health, which showed clearly that the published story was inaccurate.
“The budget office has affirmed that in terms of both capital and recurrent allocations, the draft budget has put far more money in the 17 teaching hospitals than it did in the State House Clinic.
“Having said this, we are not by any stretch of imagination suggesting that the draft budget is beyond comments or reproach. Nor do we wish to dwell on this simply to make a point. To do that will drive away good citizens from pointing out needed corrections and, ultimately defeating the change mantra of the administration.
“The budget is a Nigerian budget and citizens reserve the right to examine its content and provide their own perspectives.
“As the draft goes through the approval process, this and many other aspects will continue to generate interest, criticism, commendation and sometimes condemnation in discussions in the parliament, the media and the court of public opinion.
“We believe that the process of “change” will be affected by, and stands to gain from these debates especially where there is good faith on all sides.
“Government has no reason whatsoever to mislead the citizens on the budget and on all other matters for whatever reason,” Garba stated.