The Federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to welcome well-meaning criticism of its policies, its budget and expenditure because it is the only way the change promised the country will have a meaning.
It is on account of this, and in line with established tradition that the President directed that the draft 2016 appropriation budget, now before the National Assembly be put on the website of the budget office so that Nigerians can read it with a view to making their observations.
In view of this, suggestions to the effect that the Presidency is misleading the public on any aspects of the budget can not therefore stand the test of time.
In reaction to a newspaper story that said: “2016 Budget: Buhari to spend more on State House Clinic than on all federal govt-owned teaching hospitals,” 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 form 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.
Source : Garba Shehu