Members of the National Assembly Committee on Petroleum Downstream subsector Monday demanded a full explanation from the Chairman of Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P), Dr. Christopher Kolade, on how the various sums of N27 billion, N4 billion and N2.2 billion were spent on Youth Empowerment Programme, Mass Transit Scheme and secretariat services in less than five months in its 2012 appropriation without evidence to show for them.
Kolade, who appeared for the second time to defend SURE-P’s 2013 budget, however, requested for time to bring evidence of spending before Friday.
His explanations, it was gathered, could not convince the lawmakers on the rationalisation for the expenditure in the 2012 budget.
Members of the committee also frowned on the N75 million expenses by the committee members on the inspection of its ongoing projects across the country.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, queried: “For instance, on the mass transit figures, if you say you spent N4 billion on mass transportation, how did you spend it, if you say you bought buses, how many buses did you buy and who are the people using the buses, have they started paying back the money?
“We must as legislators, when we say it is okay the people will know that it is okay.” Members of the committee also queried the N75 million expenses on the inspection of its ongoing projects across the country.
Responding to an answer that about 10,000 jobs were created by a member of the SURE-P committee, Abe said: “I don’t think this your explanation will go anywhere, you collected N27 billion and you say you are going to create 50,000 jobs. I think you need to have a document that actually explains how the lives of those 50,000 will be transformed and how you are going to attain from point A to B.”
The senator said experience from the past of doling N10,000 to unemployed youths across the country was not the right way to address the issue of job creations.
He said: “We have done that before in this country, like the issue of poverty alleviation. N10 billion was brought to pay people. “If we want to help the unemployed in Nigeria, we must design a programme that actually puts something into the lives of the people that is sustainable and lasting, to now share N10,000 to people, there is no guarantee as to which people will get it.”
In his remarks, Hon. Peterside Dakuku, who was not happy with the explanation from the committee members, added: “I don’t think there is anything that you will say now that will convince anybody. “Please just get the documents across to us, if eventually the documentation convince us that we will be able to sustain that proposal if it does not we will move the funds elsewhere where it will have and add value.”
“I’m sure that this is one hearing that Nigerians are very and will be interested in, and to a very reasonable extent I wish to commend the candour and the transparency of the members’ as much as possible open up the processes of SURE-P to proper legislative scrutiny. Let me also say that there is still a few questions hanging and to remind you of your commitment that you will provide these details by tomorrow, given your history with this joint committee hearing and the last time you made commitment you made it on time we therefore decided to take your words for it and therefore with respect to your age and status in the country so we will hope we will get those details tomorrow,” Abe stated.