Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The state Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Baba Mustapha Shehuri, and the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Muhammad Bukar, were yesterday chastised by the House of Representatives Committee on Regional Planning and Urban Development over poor presentation of the 2018 budget performance.
Condemning what they described as ‘copy and paste’ budget, the lawmakers said the ministry expenditure in the 2018 appropriation lacked details, demanding the inclusion of some omitted columns with accurate accounts of releases and how they were spent before the 2019 proposal could be considered.
Raising observations on the faulty presentations in the budget, member representing Ibadan Northwest/South-west, Oyo State, Hon. Fijabi Akinlade, said: “I think this your 2019 and 2018 budgets, if you want to check properly, I just think it is a cut and paste. What you have just done actually is to change the figures.
“If you go to number 17 of 2018, it is the same thing; number 18 is also the same thing as well as 19, 20 and others. So, are you looking to repeat the same projects of 2018 in 2019?
“For example, number 20 of 2018 says slum identification and mapping in selected cities in Abuja and environ; number 20 of 2019 is exactly the same thing. Somebody just cut and paste and put different amount on it.”
The lawmakers said items listed in the budget from one to number 34 seemed that Urban and Regional Development Department is for some particular states in the country namely: Abuja, Ondo, Kogi, and Kwara, suggesting that they have to go and rework it to capture the entire 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the project proposals.
While pointing out errors and non-inclusion of expenditure details of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, he asked the minister to produce overhead column on the document, showing accurate accounts of releases and spending, vowing to discontinue with the session until their demands were met.
Another member of the committee, Hon. Ossai Nichola Ossai (PDP, Delta), had insisted that the ministry must provide the details of its personnel spending as it related to unit-by-unit allocations.
There was also demand for details of staff members of the ministry, who travelled to some African Union events and the costs expended on each of the travellers.
However, considering the timeframe for the completion of the budgetary process, the lawmakers and the ministry entered into a closed-door session to amend the errors in the document presented.