Reps Reject Rural Devt Budget Over Minister's Absence

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The House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development has threatened not to appropriate money to the Department of Rural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture over the absence of the minister, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, at a scheduled budget defence exercise yesterday.

The department, which was led by the ministry’s permanent secretary, was to defend its 2014 Budget performance and 2015 Budget proposal before the committee without Adesina personally coming, a situation which enraged the committee members.

A member of the committee, Hon. Nnenna Igbokwe (PDP, Imo), who made the observation on the minister’s absence, said he wouldn’t have come for the budget defence himself if he knew Adesina will not come.

Another member, Hon. Ibrahim Ebbo (APC, Niger), added that: “What is really happening? If the minister is not coming, what is the minister of state doing?”

Committee chairman, Hon. Christopher Sylvanus (PDP, Ebonyi), also added his voice by accusing Adesina of habitually boycotting the committee.

“We are not happy that the minister has always turned down our request, ” he said.

But in defence of the minister, the permanent secretary, who swore on his honour, said Adesina had gone to Lagos to represent Mr President at a function, assuring the members that he holds them in high esteem.

However, the excuse fell on deaf ears of the lawmakers as Hon Igbokwe moved a motion that the department’s budget be stepped down pending when the minister be personally available before the committee.

The motion was amended by Hon. Ebbo in order to allow the agencies under the department present to go ahead and present their budget proposals for defence.

The permanent secretary was consequently excused from the exercise until such a time when the minister is available after members had voted in favour of the motion.

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