Dr. Christopher Kolade
By Dele Ogbodo
Members of the National Assembly Committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) Wednesday took the Chairman of the board, Dr. Christopher Kolade, to task over what they termed the rampart duplication of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA)s projects in SURE-P’s budget without any corresponding impact on the overall wellbeing of Nigerians and the country at large, after expending N32.482 billion between January and September.
They took a swipe at the programme, saying it has not helped the youths in the area of employment as the claim of provision of jobs for 360,000 youths cannot be justified.
The lawmakers in a unanimous condemnation of virtually all the board’s intervention measures, added that Federal Government is cashing on the credibility of the board chairmen to carry out capitals projects that are already being done by several ministries without any result to show for it.
Because of lack of clarity of its N180 billion 2012 budget expenditure analysis, the defence of the 2013 budget put at N275 billion by Kolade was deferred till next week.
They added that the entire programme was in disarray and therefore needed an overhaul or total review to make it deliver on set targets.
While unanimously condemning the intervention programmes as having no focus, they agreed that the board had no expertise to make any meaningful impact in alleviating the plight of Nigerians after the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
According to the lawmakers, SURE-P has become Federal Government’s instrument to launder its image.
Chairmen of the committees, Senator Magnus Abe and Hon. Peterside Dakuku, felt so disappointed with the chairman’s explanation of programmes that they refused to listen to the presentation of his 2013 budget proposal, instead requested him to furnish both committees with details of SURE-P 2012 budgetary allocation.
They expressed disappointment in Kolade for his inability to furnish National Assembly on the achievement of the programme since the board was constituted to oversee the implementation of the windfall from petroleum subsidy removal in January.
The committees while expressing their anger on the lack of clear cut of the Kolade-led board’s mandate, stated that evidence of their oversight functions across the country revealed that the entire projects being embarked upon had not impacted on the lives of Nigerians in the past 11 months.
They argued that Federal Government was cashing on the credibility of the chairman to roll over projects that have no meaning or bearing to the people. They wondered how the sum of N16 billion was spent on the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road without any meaningful impact on the road in the last 10 months.
Senator Abe stressed: “Our fears are not with your credibility, but the fact that these main roads are the same also awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works during this period.
“One of the problems of the SURE-P intervention attempts is that there are projects duplication that we don’t seem to know how payments are paid to these contractors working on these projects.
While requesting for full details of how the mass transit programme with the regard to the number of buses purchased, Kolade however could not also not provide details on how the programme was executed.
He however said: “What we do in the case of the mass transit scheme for instance is to make funding available to the Infrastructure Development Bank, which will in turn provide capital for the purchase of the buses for onward distribution to transporters across the country.”
He was however at loss at the number of buses SURE-P has been able to put on the road as promised by the Federal Government at the beginning of the programme.
He assured the lawmakers of the board’s credibility in monitoring payments for its projects.
He added that all hands must be on deck to ensure the completion of its ongoing projects within the shortest possible time.