Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) yesterday faulted the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, for not appearing before it to defend his budget but rather chose to travel.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani, said that the panel has no choice but to reject any submissions from the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Abubakar Aliyu, who was before the committee to represent Fashola. He insisted that the minister must appear before the committee.
Senator Aishatu insisted that most of the replies to correspondences the committee exchanged with the ministry were personally signed by Fashola.
She added that the issues for which the committee is seeking clarification took place when Fashola was Minister of Power, Works and Housing, adding that he is the only one competent to shed light on them.
He frowned at a situation where the minister decided to travel after agreeing on the session with the committee only to send the Minister of State to represent him.
The committee unanimously resolved to turn down the Minister of State and adjourned to await Fashola by 2p.m. yesterday.
But Fashola did not show up at the end of the day.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Mr. Aliyu, extended the apologies of Fashola to the committee who he said had travelled for an urgent national assignment.
He, however, said he was sent by Fashola to stand in for him, saying he was ready to address the concerns of the committee.
A member of the committee, Senator Teslim Folarin said it was wrong for Fashola to have traveled without appearing before the committee in spite of the president’s directive barring ministers from traveling or absenting themselves from the budget defence sessions of the National Assembly.
However, in apparent reply to the remarks by Senator Folarin, the Minister of State for Works said that Fashola duly sought for clearance and the permission of the President to embark on the journey.
Senator Godiya Akwashiki said that the committee is unanimous that Fashola should appear before it in person.
Other members of the committee present at the session included Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, Senator Danladi Sankara, Senator Lekan Mustapha and Senator Gabriel Suswam.