*As Minister admits shortfalls in N-power jobs
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—A total of N288.6 billion of looted funds in the previous government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has so far been recovered by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, has said.
This is even as the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, has allayed fears over the non-approval of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, by the National Assembly before the presentation of the 2017 budget estimates last week.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, also admitted that the Social Intervention Scheme, otherwise called N-Power jobs, piloted by the Federal Government had not performed well.
The officials spoke while fielding questions from journalists at the 2017 Budget Breakdown organized by the Ministry of Budget and Planning at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
Akabueze said: “A total of N288.6 billion. This includes N97.6 billion which is equivalent of $220 dollars expected from the swiss, part of what is called Abacha loot recovery. Then it also includes N72 billion that has already been received in recent cases of loot recovery. And a balance of N90 billion.
“Other expected recoveries that are at an advanced and reasonable stage that we feel comfortable and confident that they would come through in 2017 and have been reflected in the budget.”
Udoma on his part, said the National Assembly, which already had both the MTEF and the budget, would work on them at their own pace.
He also underscored the determination of the government to pull Nigeria out of recession.
He said: “With respect to the question about the MTEF, the national assembly has the MTEF which has been updated. And they have the budget, so everything is with them.
‘’So, they will determine how they treat it. I am sure the sequence will be they do the MTEF before they do the budget. But everything is with the national assembly.
“We are determined to bring succour to our people. The only way is by taking strong actions to change the current trajectory of the Nigerian economy.
‘’To get out of the recession and bring the country back on the path of growth, government must find the resources to spend on infrastructure, and to spend to reflate the economy.”
On his part, the Minister of State for Budget, Ahmed, said the social intervention programme encountered teething problems, even as she believed that the issues would be completely solved in the 2017 budget to meet the objective of the scheme.