By Shola Martins
The Federal Government has demoted Tijani Mohammed Abdullahi as Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation.
Abdullahi will now serve as Special Adviser to the President on Planning and will continue to work with the Minister of Budget and National Planning.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement said the President replaced with Ben Akabueze, who until the announcement was Special Adviser on Planning.
Both Akabueze and Abdullahi joined the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in February, this year.
Their redeployment is part of an ongoing exercise aimed at further repositioning the ministry to effectively deliver on its core mandate.
The change, observers said, might not be unconnected with the alleged padding that dogged the 2016 budget proposal.
Buhari had on May signed the 2016 budget, bringing an end to the protracted controversy surrounding the budget.
The 2016 budget estimates suffered several delays after claims and counter claims from both the legislature and the executive, each accusing the other of padding the budget.
The National Assembly in April transmitted details of the budget to the President after it passed the bill on March 23, but the President refused to sign, citing omission of certain critical capital projects, notably the Calabar-Lagos rail line, by the Senate and House Committees on Appropriation, led by Senator Danjuma Goje and Abdulmumin Jibrin respectively.
The stand-off forced the National Assembly to withdraw and incorporate the projects.
There were also meetings with the leadership of the National Assembly after which a committee was formed to look at “grey areas” in the budget and harmonise them in time for the President’s assent.