The Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas, has described as misleading the claim that the National Assembly included projects not captured in the 2017 Budget.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Babatunde Fashola the Minister of Works, Power and Housing (FMWP&H), was reported as saying that the National Assembly included many projects that were not agreed on during budget defence.
Namdas, who addressed a news conference on Saturday in Yola on the matter, said the claims by Fashola over cuts in budget for Lagos-Ibadan Express Way, 2nd Niger Bridge, Mambila Power Projects, among others, were attempts to blackmail the National Assembly and paint it as an irresponsible institution.
“We need to restate that the National Assembly leadership entered into certain understandings with the Executive arm on the 2017 budget in good faith. It is a clear breach of these understandings for the executive to make public statements calculated to undermine and distort them.
“Nigerians deserve a total concentration of all government officials, arms of government and MDA’s to grow the economy as we exit the recession. We in the House of Representatives are so passionately committed,” Namdas said.
He explained that regarding the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way, the leadership of the executive and legislature met where it was clarified that alternative funding for the road through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) existed and that the concessionaires had enough money to fund the project.
“That informed the decision to move some funds to other areas of need and the minister is fully aware of this but chose to ignore it.
“Why spend government money if there is a clear existing funding framework in place.”
On Mambila Power Project, Namdas said Fashola proposed N17 billion for only environmental impact assessment which the assembly felt “was misplaced and patently unjustifiable. The minister himself even wrote to the National Assembly to move some funds from one sub-head to another.”
On the 2nd Niger bridge, Namdas said N12 billion was appropriated for the bridge in 2016 and not a kobo was spent on it by the ministry.
“The money was returned. The ministry could not provide the committee of the national assembly with evidence of an agreement on PPP or a contract for the bridge.
“The National Assembly, in its wisdom, decided to fund other projects from South East leaving N7 billion for the bridge that may yet be unspent,” Namdas said.
While noting that the National Assembly has power to review budget, the house spokesman claimed that Fashola might be angry with its refusal to approve a N20 billion proposal which details was not provided by his ministry.
“Contained in the budget of FMWP&H is an omnibus allocation of N20 billion. The details were not provided by the minister.
“The National Assembly would be irresponsible to appropriate such funds that are not tied to specific projects.
“Mr Fashola pushed hard to have the lump sum of N20 billion approved for him without specifying which project it will be spent on. He wanted the details to be left to him to decide at his discretion. The National Assembly refused to do this and incurred the wrath of the almigthy minister,” Namdas said.