He stated that when a budget is presented before the House of Assembly, for instance from the President to the National Assembly, it is the duty of the legislature to look into the budget proposal, make necessary additions or subtractions of both the items and the amounts
He said the legitimate padding which involves the House analysing the budget items and the amounts, to know their relevance and feasibility, is a normal legislative function.
Ahmad noted that imputation of items and amounts into the budget, unknown and not approved by the relevant committees and the House, is illegitimate budget padding which is corruption and wrong.
Ahmad said, “Budget padding depends on what we meant by budget padding. We have heard of a lot of stories about it and by now, Nigerians should be educated enough about legislative process. Nigerians know very little about legislative process. Our belief is that once the President lays the appropriation bill, it should come out the way it is laid. So any addition or subtraction is not good. If that is what we mean by padding, then it is wrong.
“There is nothing like padding, because the work of the legislature is to pad the budget and not to report the way it was brought. So legitimate padding is part of legislative process and so cannot be an offence. Padding which is known and accepted by the relevant communities and the whole house is not illegal.
“When you insert a figure after the president brought his own, that is what you are expected to do. You alter it or remove it and it is known to the whole committee and the whole house; that is legal padding. That is padding that is approved by the Constitution. So there is nothing wrong with padding that is legitimate. It is part of legislative function.
“We have this military mentality that anything that the Supreme Military Council has signed, nobody can change it. That is not democracy. In democracy, if the President brings a budget, you can even mutilate it and once the whole house approves it, it is approved and once the President signs it, there will be no question.”
He added that illegal padding is corruption and wrong.
Ahmad said, “That is illegal padding and it is wrong because the person is using the name of the House to add things that the House has not approved. Today some of the members are saying that somebody inserted something that the whole house is not aware of. If there is evidence to that, then that is illegal padding.
“Illegal padding is corruption because you are corruptly using the name of the House, putting something in the budget which the House does not know and which after signing you can now go and use it and the House does not know. That one is corruption.”