Gas C’ttee condemns abuse of budgetary process by NAPIMS FCT C’ttee assigns street maintenance task to banks

Tobi Soniyi and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have resolved to ensure the continuity of all projects started in 2016 as captured in last year’s Appropriation Bill.

The resolution was the aftermath of a meeting called by the acting president at the Presidential Villa and attended by principal officers of the Senate and House of Representatives including the Chairmen of Appropriation Committees of both houses.

Also at the meeting which had the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, her counterpart in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, Director-General of Budget Office and other members of the Economic Team chaired by Osinbajo, the acting president appealed to the leadership of the National Assembly for the quick passage of the 2017 budget

The meeting was spurred by the visit of Saraki to Osinbajo on Tuesday where he had reported the flaws discovered in the budget by the National Assembly as well as the perceived setback to the budget process caused by the failure of heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to appear before relevant committees to defend their budgets.

THISDAY learnt that following the complaints received from Saraki, the acting president opted to schedule an elaborate meeting for Wednesday with a view to nipping the issues raised in the bud.
The essence of the meeting, THISDAY learnt, was to ensure an exchange of ideas between the National Assembly and the Presidency with a view to ensuring that the budget process is faster and better than that of 2016.

THISDAY learnt that the meeting resolved that none of the projects started in 2016 as captured in last year’s budget must be abandoned in 2017. Besides the continuity of the projects, it was also learnt that the meeting resolved that such projects must be well funded.

THISDAY also gathered that the meeting further resolved that all key projects in various parts of the country must be captured in the budget with a view to guiding against extra-budgetary spending in the course of the year.
Reference was said to have been made to the scheduled repair of the tarmac of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport scheduled to take-off on March 8 which was not captured in 2016 budget and yet being pursued by the federal government.

Given the resolutions at the meeting, all projects such as the reconstruction of Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Lokoja – Abuja expressway, the rail projects in different parts of the country, among others, are expected to continue non-stop until they are completed.

Meanwhile, the Senate Joint Committee on Gas, Petroleum (downstream and upstream) yesterday accused the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) of abusing due process during the presentation of its 2016 budget performance to the committee.

At the meeting, NAPIMS’ Group General Manager, Dafe Sejebor, had told the committee that the company ended 2016 in debit balance. But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Akpan Bassey, reminded the company that a budgetary balance of $1.8 billion was carried over from 2015 to 2016 while another $3.8 billion was provided in 2016 out of which he said the agency spent $4.2 billion, leaving a huge balance of about $1.4 billion.

He also reminded the agency that $422 million was allocated to it for gas infrastructure projects in 2016 out of which he said the agency spent only $318 million. But Sejebor claimed that the budgetary balance was used to settle outstanding joint venture commitments.
However, Bassey condemned the agency’s unilateral decision to move funds from one budgetary sub-head to another without appropriation.
The committee then ordered the company to furnish it with details of shortfalls of funds allocated for gas infrastructural projects.

Also yesterday, the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said the committee in collaboration with FCT Authority, had agreed that banks operating in the FCT would henceforth, shoulder the responsibility of maintaining street lights and environments of Abuja
At a press briefing, Chairman, FCT Committee, Dino Melaye, said “the committee decided to invite these banks and in line with their corporate social responsibility to the FCT, their host community, that we are going to share all the major streets in Abuja to banks.

“These banks will now do the maintenance of street lights; they will be responsible for environmental sanitation of all the streets, the beautification of roundabouts where you have them and by so doing, they will also have the logo of their companies or their brands at least being advertised on the street lights.
“Last week, the Committee on FCT summoned the managing directors of all banks operating in the FCT and 15 banks attended. The essence of that meeting is to correct and ameliorate the problem associated with environmental sanitation of the FCT,” he said.
In pursuit of befitting environment for Abuja, Melaye also said every house in Abuja had been mandated to plant at least six trees.