Nigeria’s budget office will this year spend at least N215 million in financing an official feeding plan for its staffers, beating several government departments and even bigger ministries to reach a figure that is second only to the presidency’s 2012 food bill.
Aso rock has budgeted N992.57 million for a spectrum of catering services this year, an amount enough to build at least three standard new schools and hospitals, and sufficient to construct a 10 kilometer stretch of road.
The figure, widely reported last year after first published by Premium Times, dwarfs similar costs in other offices, and helped in galvanizing public discontent during January fuel subsidy protest.
Government officials have struggled to defend the president’s whopping food bill which translates to more than N3 million a day.
Speaking on a television programme during the public demonstrations, National Planning minister, Shamsudeen Usman, who is a former finance minister, said the amount was not entirely for meals as reported, but was meant to finance other “related costs”.
A new analysis of hundreds of federal ministries, departments and parastatals, now puts the Budget Office of the Federation, a unit under the finance ministry, on top of many others, ranking as the second biggest food spender after the presidency.
For 2012, the BOF, which controls the nation’s budgets annually, is to spend N215.6 million on “Refreshment and meals.”
The amount is way ahead of the average expenditure on the same subject from other offices which averages about N20 million, and unlike the presidency, their details are not indicated despite the budget office’s insistence that establishments provide sufficient expenditure details to earn approval.
An official of the budget office told Premium Times the amount reflected the cost of entertaining not just the staff of the budget office, but representatives of other MDAs who visit for budget planning and defense.
“Sometimes this takes up to a month and it’s usually done in a hotel. The amount caters for the refreshment of other officials as well,” the official said, refusing to be named in this story.
He admitted the figure was huge and had generated interest from other quarters too.
However, each of those offices he referred to have separate allocations for the refreshment of their staff, that is even when all such staffers draw remunerations covering refreshments.
Again, when compared with offices with a similar central role that brings on board representatives of other ministries, agencies and departments, the feeding cost for the Budget Office maintains a distant lead.
For instance, the Auditor General’s office, which coordinates the auditing of all offices, plans to spend only N12.3million for the same purpose. The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the federation, which plays host to inter-ministerial meetings almost more than any other establishment, plans to buy food for N39.7million.
The other spenders are the Ministry of Foreign aAfairs, N83.7million; Ministry of Finance, N74.4million; Ministry of Niger Delta, N31.2million; and Office of the Head of Service – another central post – N30.35million.
Some of the relatively smaller spenders include Ministry of Police Affairs, N3.6million; and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, another unit under the finance ministry, N2.17million.
The Poverty Eradication office, NAPEP, proposes N25.1million, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission plans N11.9million, while the Independent Corrupt Practices and related offences Commission will spend N10million.