It is very obvious that Binta Garba, a Senator of the Federal Republuc of Nigeria, is not aware of the existence of BudgIT, an agency that compiles and publishes budgets and financial statements of corporate organisations, government agencies and other organisations on the Internet, making them accessible to members of the public.
Or, if she is aware of its existence, she is quite in the dark about the work it does and the one it has done so far.
One would say this fact is very glaring in a response written by Ms Hadiza Bala Usman when Garba accuses her of plotting Garba’s removal from the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority to stop her from seeing the account of the agency.
To save herself the embarrasment Bala-Usman’s response has served, Garba needed to simply go online and view the whole accounts of the NPA on the BudgIT portal.
The scathing response from Bala-Usman, who it seems is not ready to lie down and let every Tom, Dick and Harry kick her with all kinds of damaging claims goes thus;
“Apart from the fact that Senator Binta Garba really said nothing substantial, making only spurious, unproved allegations in the statement she issued on Sunday, she also gave herself away as coming to the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) to lend herself to the agency of destabilisation rather than contribute to its development.
“As I say with all emphasis that her allegations of resistant to inquiries on the finances of the NPA are false, I make bold to say that the Authority has since 2016, openly exhibited its readiness to be held to public scrutiny by taking the following steps:
Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with BUdgit Open Budget System Platform and Implementation of a Public Data Dissemination programme.
Publishing the tariff regime of the Authority on the website for the whole world to see in line with the vision of transparency and accountability.
Conducting the statutory Audit of the backlog of Authority’s financial statements for 2013-2016 and presenting same for approval and submission to the appropriate quarters.”
Stating further, Bala-Usman added that the NPA for the past five years, had engaged international renowned auditing firms for the audit of NPA’s financial statements up until 2019 with full compliance to all Nigerian laws and the International Financial Reporting Standards.
“The 2020 financial statement is currently being audited,” she added.
Posing a question to the Garba, she said, “When the Auditors presented the financial statement to the finance committee of which she was a member, did she seek clarifications on areas that seemed opaqued or suspicious? “If she did what happened? If she was not satisfied with the answers provided by the Auditors, why did she not consider withholding assent to the statement? Why did she not formally document her discontent? Why did she not issue a minority opinion on the statement, instead of now speaking after the fact?”
She added, “All said and done, while I concede to Senator Binta Garba’s right to whatever opinion she desires concerning our relationship when she was a board member, I remind her that those who allow themselves to be used to malign innocent people have their own days of reckoning waiting for them.”