By Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
The National Assembly Joint Committees on Marine Transport have uncovered non-existing projects to the tune of over N4 billion appropriated for by the National Inland Waterways Agency (NIWA) between 2017 and 2019 fiscal years.
These projects included acquisition of vessels, barges and procurement of dredgers and other related equipment for which over N4 billion was appropriated for.
The committees made the discoveries Monday during the budget defence of the Ministry of Transportation and NIWA held at the National Assembly.
The contentious projects are: National Freight Office in Idi-Iroko, Ogun State for which a total sum of N40.500 million was appropriated in 2017, N166 million in 2018 and N99 million in 2019; while the sum of N400 million was proposed in the 2020 budget estimates in the Ministry of Transportation budget line item: ERGP 27102753.
Others included procurement of dredgers and other related equipment/vessels for which the sum of N1.5 billion was proposed in the NIWA’s 2020 budget estimate transmitted to the National Assembly.
The lawmakers equally observed that a total sum of N2. 2 billion was appropriated for the project in 2018 Appropriation Act, while an additional sum of N1 billion was appropriated for the same project in the 2019 Appropriation Acts respectively.
The Deputy Chairman of the House Committee, Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, frowned on various infractions noticed in the successive Appropriation Acts, stressing that there was need to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged funds expended on the projects.
Jarigbe also pointed out that the ministry had budgeted a line item earmarked ERGP27192753 for construction of National Freight Office at Idi Iroko, Ogun State and queried the N400,000,000.00 allocated in the budget for it.
He stressed further that most of the projects tagged on-going in the 2019 Appropriation Act of the ministry were never in existence before 2019 having vetted the previous budgets.
Jarigbe therefore called for a thorough investigation of the ministry’s budgeting process, noting that what it means is that someone sits somewhere and manufactures figures for the ministry.