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Padded budget: I'm embarrassed, says Buhari

For the first time late Tuesday night, President Muhammadu Buhari, broke his silence on padding in the 2016 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly, vowing to deal decisively with the masterminds. The President also said that with the drastic fall in oil prices in the international market, Nigeria was returning to agriculture and mining development to boost the economy. President Buhari President Buhari, who spoke while addressing the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia where he is current on an official visit, admitted that the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly late December 2015 had been utterly doctored but condemned the distortion in the document by  entrenched interests he vowed to deal with. He revealed that the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udo Udoma, did an excellent job of knitting the budget together, but regretted that the document was distorted by unknown persons. The President said the unauthorised alterations had completely changed the document from the one he presented to the National Assembly, vowing to severely punish anyone found culpable. President Buhari said:  "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." The President also assured members of the Nigerian community that his administration was working diligently to fulfil its campaign promises, particularly on security, unemployment and corruption. Reaffirming his government's zero tolerance for corruption, President Buhari said the war against graft was a monumental task that he was determined to tackle successfully. "We have zero tolerance for corruption and other unethical practices. We will deal decisively with anybody found wanting," he promised members of the Nigerian community. The President also used the opportunity to brief Nigerians in Saudi Arabia on his administration's efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria. "Our armed forces have done a great job of dealing decisively with Boko Haram. We are collaborating with our neighbours in the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force to handle security threats in the sub-region and we have significantly destroyed the capacity of the insurgents,"  he said. He also spoke on efforts being made to diversify the Nigerian economy, stressing that more opportunities were now open for local and foreign investors in the country. On the  drastic fall in oil prices in the international market, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria was returning to agriculture and mining to cushion its effect on the economy. He regretted that the country had largely depended on oil, stressing that current harsh economic realities were an indication that the economy needed to be urgently diversified. President Buhari, who stated this at a meeting with leading members of the Council of Saudi Arabia's Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh, also on Tuesday night, said his administration would welcome greater foreign investment in support of its efforts to rapidly diversify the Nigerian economy. He noted that aside from oil, Nigeria was gifted with arable lands and mineral resources that were waiting to be tapped, and urged the businessmen to take advantage of the opportunity. "With the downturn in the global prices of oil, we now have to prospect our solid minerals. We have to return to agriculture. Mining and agriculture are our hopes now. ''We will welcome investments in these areas. We will appreciate an inflow of more resources and expertise to help us achieve our objective of economic diversification," the President said. Similarly, governors of Osun, Ogun, Katsina, Borno, and Zamfara states who were part of the President's delegation, took turns to address the Saudi Arabian businessmen on investment possibilities in their states, assuring them of good returns. The Chairman of the Council of Saudi Arabian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Abdulrahman Al Zamil, said agriculture was a very important area of investment for its members, adding that they were already in Brazil, the United States of America and Sudan, where they had huge farms. Declaring that they were willing to invest in Nigeria

© 2016 Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria

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Padded budget: I'm embarrassed, says Buhari

For the first time late Tuesday night, President Muhammadu Buhari, broke his silence on padding in the 2016 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly, vowing to deal decisively with the masterminds. The President also said that with the drastic fall in oil prices in the international market, Nigeria was returning to agriculture and mining development to boost the economy. President Buhari President Buhari, who spoke while addressing the Nigerian community in Saudi Arabia where he is current on an official visit, admitted that the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly late December 2015 had been utterly doctored but condemned the distortion in the document by  entrenched interests he vowed to deal with. He revealed that the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udo Udoma, did an excellent job of knitting the budget together, but regretted that the document was distorted by unknown persons. The President said the unauthorised alterations had completely changed the document from the one he presented to the National Assembly, vowing to severely punish anyone found culpable. President Buhari said:  "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." The President also assured members of the Nigerian community that his administration was working diligently to fulfil its campaign promises, particularly on security, unemployment and corruption. Reaffirming his government's zero tolerance for corruption, President Buhari said the war against graft was a monumental task that he was determined to tackle successfully. "We have zero tolerance for corruption and other unethical practices. We will deal decisively with anybody found wanting," he promised members of the Nigerian community. The President also used the opportunity to brief Nigerians in Saudi Arabia on his administration's efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria. "Our armed forces have done a great job of dealing decisively with Boko Haram. We are collaborating with our neighbours in the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force to handle security threats in the sub-region and we have significantly destroyed the capacity of the insurgents,"  he said. He also spoke on efforts being made to diversify the Nigerian economy, stressing that more opportunities were now open for local and foreign investors in the country. On the  drastic fall in oil prices in the international market, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria was returning to agriculture and mining to cushion its effect on the economy. He regretted that the country had largely depended on oil, stressing that current harsh economic realities were an indication that the economy needed to be urgently diversified. President Buhari, who stated this at a meeting with leading members of the Council of Saudi Arabia's Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh, also on Tuesday night, said his administration would welcome greater foreign investment in support of its efforts to rapidly diversify the Nigerian economy. He noted that aside from oil, Nigeria was gifted with arable lands and mineral resources that were waiting to be tapped, and urged the businessmen to take advantage of the opportunity. "With the downturn in the global prices of oil, we now have to prospect our solid minerals. We have to return to agriculture. Mining and agriculture are our hopes now. ''We will welcome investments in these areas. We will appreciate an inflow of more resources and expertise to help us achieve our objective of economic diversification," the President said. Similarly, governors of Osun, Ogun, Katsina, Borno, and Zamfara states who were part of the President's delegation, took turns to address the Saudi Arabian businessmen on investment possibilities in their states, assuring them of good returns. The Chairman of the Council of Saudi Arabian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Abdulrahman Al Zamil, said agriculture was a very important area of investment for its members, adding that they were already in Brazil, the United States of America and Sudan, where they had huge farms. Declaring that they were willing to invest in Nigeria

© 2016 Vanguard Media Limited, Nigeria

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