It has been revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari, dismissed 22 top government officials over the saga of budget padding.
This was contained in Buhari’s authorised biography, ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria’, written by Prof. John Paden and presented to the public on Monday.
A total of 184 civil servants were disciplined for their different roles in the padding of the 2016 budget, of the 184, Paden said 22 top officials were dismissed from service.
He said the President viewed the padding as an attempt to scuttle his administration’s innovations, hence his decision to wield the big stick against the culprits.
The author wrote, “Buhari himself was frustrated by earlier padding of the budget by bureaucrats in some of the ministries.
“This was interpreted by the Buhari team as an attempt to scuttle the innovations proposed by the President by inflating their costs.
“When Buhari found out, he was reported to be angry and ordered a purge of the ministries involved from the Director-General down.
“Twenty-two top officials were dismissed, including the budget director. In all, 184 civil servants were disciplined.”
He added that even after the budget had been adjusted downward by the National Assembly, the country would still have to borrow $3.5bn, as a result of the drop in oil prices.
In February, Buhari had while addressing the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia, vowed that all those involved in the padding of the 2016 national budget, which led to the discrepancies in the document, would face severe punishment.
He had said the alterations, which he described as embarrassing and disappointing, made the document, being debated in the National Assembly at that time, completely different from what was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Describing those responsible for the distortion of the budget proposals as entrenched interests, the President had said since he had been holding public offices, he had never heard about budget padding before the incident.
Buhari had added, “The culprits will not go unpunished. I have been a military governor, petroleum minister, military Head of State and headed the Petroleum Trust Fund.
“Never had I heard the words budget padding. Our Minister of Budget and National Planning did a great job with his team.
“The minister became almost half his size during the time, working night and day to get the budget ready, only for some people to pad it.
“What he gave us was not what was finally being debated. It is very embarrassing and disappointing. We will not allow those who did it to go unpunished.”
Reaffirming his government’s zero tolerance for corruption, Buhari said the war against corruption was a monumental task that he was determined to tackle successfully