Monday, March 3, 2008

Yar’Adua Moves Against Health Minister

It amazes me when people in government do not read their bosses body language. Can you imagine this old woman throwing her name to the dogs all in the name that she was misled?
What part of return unspent money did she not understand? Every government has its style whether it suits you or not, yours is to obey that is why you are appointed.
She probably thought this is Obasanjo regime where they could say one thing and mean the other. Civil Servants are very dangerous people, if she was told not to return the money what efforts did she make to insist otherwise? Now she is going to face the music all by herself while those who 'misled' her will probably be transfered from that ministry end of story.
Her name will be dented for life. So much for greed!

Yar’Adua Moves Against Health Minister
•N’Assembly meets on returned budget

From Stanley Nkwazema in Abuja & Kingsley Nwezeh in Lagos, 03.03.2008 (THISDAY)

The Health Minister, Prof. Adenike Grange, who was arrested last Thursday on the orders of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua over the handling of unspent funds in the 2007 budget and award of contracts, has been released.Grange was released at the weekend by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after she was interrogated over the allegation.THISDAY learnt that the health minister claimed she was misadvised by her directors.Operatives of EFCC are now moving against the directors following the minister’s claim but Grange may be invited again for further interrogation as more details are unveiled.President Yar’Adua is said to have ordered that no stone should be left unturned over the matter and anyone found culpable should be dealt with in accordance with the law.Grange is alleged to have awarded contracts without following due process, in addition to flouting the presidential order that unspent votes for 2007 should be returned to the treasury.“It was discovered that many ministries flouted the order,” a government official told THISDAY last night. “The main problem is that without the cooperation of key officials in the affected ministries, investigation will be stalled. I can confirm, for instance, that the minister who was quizzed has already been implicated by top officials of the ministry. In fact, over N40 million has been recovered already from the last-minute contract bazaar and sharing of money.”Investigators are banking on the possibility that if the indicted minister is made a scapegoat, more ministers may be exposed soon.And following allegations that some ministers colluded with some members of the National Assembly to inflate allocations for their ministries’ in this year’s budget, THISDAY has learnt that EFCC has beamed its searchlight on more ministers.At a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting last year, President Yar’Adua had directed that all unspent funds in the last days of that year be returned to the public treasury.The President, who may soon embark on a major cabinet shake-up before his first anniversary in office in May, had withheld his assent to the harmonised 2008 Appropriation Bill partly because of the inflation of budgetary figures which not only threatens macro-economic stability but is believed to be capable of hampering the long-term economic targets of the present administration.A National Assembly source said the President was very worried about the spending spree that was built into the budget.“He was obviously angry over the inflation of figures which he strongly believed was the handiwork of some ministers in collaboration with some lawmakers,” the source said. “He did not hide the fact that if any case could be established that something untoward happened, the ministers would face the music.”In 2004, the then minster of education, Prof. Fabian Osuji, lost his position following allegations that National Assembly members were bribed to inflate Education Ministry’s budget in what was christened bribe-for-budget scandal.The case is still in court but the Senate President then, Chief Adolphus Wabara, resigned over the allegation. Meanwhile, worried over the delay caused by the inability of President Yar’Adua to assent to the N2.8 trillion 2008 Appropr-iation Bill, the committee set up by both chambers of the National Assembly is scheduled to meet today to take a final look at the document.The committee set up last week by the Senate and House of Representatives to go through the areas the President considered inappropriate started meeting since last week and is expected to submit a joint report to the leadership of the two chambers soon.The report will then be presented for ratification in plenary.The Senate committee is led by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while the House committee is led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Bayero Usman Nafada.THISDAY learnt that the National Assembly members are worried that the President returned the bill whereas they expected him to have assented to it while other disagreements are resolved later. The Chief Whip of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, when contacted yesterday in Abuja told THISDAY that there was no cause for alarm over the 2008 Appropriation Bill returned by President Yar’Adua. He said though the committee had started work on the areas of disagreements, the leadership of the House was yet to be briefed on the outcome.“It is too early now to take decisions. We have to allow the joint committee to work and report back before the House will take a position. It is a healthy development. I think that is the beauty of democracy. We have to disagree to agree. But I must tell you that we represent the people and know how they feel and the pressing areas that require urgent intervention. We will sort it out soonest,” he said.President Yar’Adua had returned the bill saying he was not comfortable with some aspects introduced by the lawmakers. After almost three months of working on the bill, the Senate and House had initially passed different figures. But they later harmonised their differences on the budget and jointly settled for N2.898, 801,095,668 as the harmonised figure of the 2008 Appropriation Bill.

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