The Senior Special Assistant (Media) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, has said that the Federal Government will continue to welcome constructive criticism of its policies, budget and expenditure.
Shehu said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday that such criticism would assist the government in fulfilling its promises to Nigerians, adding that “it is the only way the change promised the country will have a meaning’’.
He said that it was on account of this and in line with established tradition that the president directed that the draft 2016 appropriation, now before the National Assembly, be put on the website of the Budget Office.
He said this would enable Nigerians to read the budget with a view to making their observations.
Shehu dismissed the insinuation in some quarters that the presidency was misleading the public on certain aspects of the budget proposal.
“In reaction to a newspaper story that said `2016 Budget: Buhari to spend more on State House Clinic than on all Federal Government-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 from these debates, especially where there is good faith on all sides,’’ he further explained.
Shehu said that the government had no reason to mislead the citizens on the budget and on all other matters for whatever reason.