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Senate panel threatens Auditor General office with zero 2021 allocation

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Senate panel threatens Auditor General office with zero 2021 allocation

Senate Committee on Public Accounts (SPAC) yesterday threatened the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation with zero 2021 allocation if it fails to return to its office for the purpose of documenting it’s liabilities for the 2020 fiscal year.

The committee expressed concern that the Auditor general’s office was having liabilities and yet having unutilised allocation in the 2020 budget.

The chairman of the committee Senator Matthew Urhoghide who gave the directive to Auditor General of the Federation Mr. Adolphus Aghughu said he cannot say he has money and the same time owing.
“Go and pay all your debts, let us see what you have otherwise the office would be made to pay same to the federation account by the year ending December 31st 2020 if found wanting.”
This was sequel to observations by the committee members that a large portion of monies released to the Auditor General have not been utilised especially for its overhead and capital projects.
The Senate committee members wondered if the Office of the Auditor General of the federation deserved to be allocated funds for 2021 when that of 2020 was lying dormant.
Findings by the panel according Senator Urhoghide reads in part: “Now we are through with the overhead, Capital is the same thing, all your money is still with you. Monitoring and evaluation you have, N4m the money is still there; purchase of generator sets, N7.9m you still have a balance of N7.9m; Five cabinet and cupboard N808,000 it is still there, you did not use it.

“Purchase of firefighting equipment  N2.5m you still have N2.5m; servicing of forensic lab, equipment, so and so forth, N6.1m you still have N6.1m, these are monies released to you,” Urhoghide wondered.
The Committee Chairman  continued: “Do you know why we are asking this questions, we are doing appropriation for you, you will need to ascertain if you really need the resources.
“If all the monies allocated to you are not utilized and, this is already November, whether you like it or not, the account of this year will close by 31st of December, Anything in personnel and overhead not utilized will go back, how can we now as a committee defend this that the budget given to you to renovate your offices in Lagos and other States, you did not utilized it, it shows clearly that you do not need it,” Chairman of the committee, Senator Urhoghide stated.

In closing his remark, Urhoghide said  “All your liabilities and commitments, go and put them in place, you cannot say I have money and you are owing, go and pay all your debts, let us see what you have, he admonished the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

Reacting to the development, Senator Ibrahim Danbaba Sokoto South Senatorial District said “As an accountant I am embarrassed with this kind of thing,” wondering how the office can be able to checkmate corruption in other institutions of government when it cannot carry out basic duties to strengthen its personnel and office to effectively audit government agencies.
Danbaba wondered what would be the justification for the AuGF to be further allocated any revenue in the 2021 budget especially as it is seeking a N4.6bn budgetary allocation for the 2031 fiscal year.

His words: “What is even bothering me is that, you are asking for N4. 6bn and you are struggling to spend just N16m, honestly, it does not make sense. I am terribly disappointed, all of you are professional accountants, it is a disappointment. I am supposed to be one of you but I am terribly disappointed in you, all of you.

On his part, Senator Suleiman Abdul-Kwari said that the none utilization of the funds allocated for purposes that would advance the operations of the AuGF was capable of threatening the Office structure and by extension national asset.

Senator Kwari said : “We bought Security and Exchange Commission when I was a commissioner of Finance and Admin for SEC and I know how much we spent to renovate their building.

This small sum of allocated for renovation, I think the building will be under threat of decay which is also not good for the investment of government”


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Legislature

Senate panel decries paltry N38b allocation to FERMA for road maintenance

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Senate panel decries paltry N38b allocation to FERMA for road maintenance


**canvasses for N300b yearly allocation to FERMA


The senate Committee on  works has raised concern over paltry N38B allocation to FERMA as being to meagre to do any manageable road Maintanance on the 36, 000km road network across the country.The committee chairman, Senator Gershom Bassey spoke after he presented his committees report on the budget defence of the ministry of works and FERMA to the appropriation committee.”The way we move goods and services in this country we use rad. 80% of goods are moved on the roads so it.makes sense for us to.invest heavily on our roads particularly in the maintenance if those roads. “If you are spending N300b to N400b every year on FERMA so that your roads would be in good shape because we know the lost of lives that we encountered on our roads and  the lost of efficiency.”A budget of N38b is really a paltry sum considering that you have 36, 000 km of road network and virtually all have one problem or the other. “For FERMA we are looking at Budget in excess of N300b every year. Just to maintain road network as it is and of course why not because the way we move goods and services in this country we dont use train. “May be a trailer loaded with goods that want to move from one town to another, a journey of half a day would now take four or five days, this is because of the poor maintenance culture. “I have always urged the Federal Government to pay more attention to FERMA because it is key. “It takes 2 to 3 or 4 years to build a new road but the one you have you have to maintain so it is important that more money is pumped into FERMA if it is N300b or N400b it is not too much for FERMA so that they can truly maintain our road networks and save lives and increase the efficiency of the economy. “He said as senators they can not increase budget “Well when you increase on what, the project has to be in place and that planning comes from the executive and that is why we say to the executives pay a bit more attention to FERMA so that it can function.”The idea that we are going to willy Nilly increase budget we are not engineers here, there has to be a plan. It has to be planned based budgeting. “We want the executives to plan for our roads, for FERMA to increase the efficiency, safety and maintenance of out roads. It is when we have that that you can come here and we can see where to adjust we can add an extra this or that but based on planWhen asked on the issue of privatisation as the 36000km road network are in bad shape. In the senate we have been singing that song for a long time about the concessions and the idea that you can have a concessioning model whereby some kind of trust fund or some pull that will complement it. Again we have raised a bill that has gone to second reading on a national road infrastructure agency that will be a stand alone agency that owns the road network with that concessioning becomes very easy. We have gone far with the arrangement but it is not something one can just wake up and do.
He had informed the appropriation committee that the Senate committee on work was transferring a project to the FERMA committee.
“We are in the legislature we don’t execute we are just here to oversight the budget I do know that FERMA is working and that is why a lot people like to work with FERMA because the efficiency and the engineering capacity inside that agfency. “I think the only thing missing why you have not seen many sign board as you used to see before but because of funding. 
“I know that it is a project that is ongoing in FERMA and so the issue is that you cannot dabble and start that project again in works even though monies are sent to works so they want to fund the same project in FERMA and I think that it is a technical thing that the works committee has requested.

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Perimeter fencing for Airports precautionary against Bush fire, stray animals says senate

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Perimeter fencing for Airports precautionary against Bush fire, stray animals says senate

The senate committee chairman on Aviation Smart Adeyemi has said the provision for Perimeter fencing contained in the 1021 budget is for safety reasons.
Adeyemi stated this when he presented the harmonised budget of the ministry before the appropriation committee in the senate.
He said,”Quite a number of the airports lack perimeter fencing and that is the reason you see animals moving around in the airport.
“It also leads to situation of fire incidences especially when people set fire on the nearby bushes in the airport.
“We are proposing perimeter fencing in a number of airports in Nigeria to safeguard the airport against when plane will be landing and the nearby bush fire extends into the airport.
“All these are measures that people may not see as serious but can threaten the safety of people flying.
“There is provision for purchase of more meteorological equipments to ensure adequate forecast of weather so that the pilots would be well guided. So we made provisions for what is required in the aviation to make it more safety compliant.
“In Nigeria we have succeeded in maintaining a very enviable record, and we commend the Aviation industry for that. So what we have done in the national assembly is to help to sustain the record of safety that we have had. “We have done very well and we have put in place all those measures that will further strengthen the industry and to encourage more Nigerians to fly.
“Like I said there are quite a number of airstrips that have been abandoned next year many of them will come to live.
“We have encouraged the airstrips to be rehabilitated so that people can take gets and land. This is a country is vibrant people move around. In a depressed economy one of the ways to go above the recession, moreover that it is a global economic recession that is threatening us is to make sure that you equip the aviation industry and encourage people to fly by providing or putting in place all those measures that are needed.
“When you have enough airstrip quite a lot of people can fly, a number of business men can move round the country and look at the potentials that we have. “So Aviation is very key not just for economic development but more so in a very depressed economy when you have a vibrant aviation industry it will enable that country to go above the recession.”
He described the 2021 budget for.the aviation industry as promising and progressive.
He said there is a provision for an alternative runway for convenience.
“We have a provision for a second runway in Abuja to save us from some of the occasion when plane will have to be hovering may be they will run out of fuel or some will have to go to nearby airport to land so when you have a second runway you are guaranteeing both the safety of the passengers, the aircraft and you are equally minimising cost. “When they don’t hover around they can adequately use the quantity of fuel calculated for the journey. “
He pointed out the necessity to have a second runway.
“It ought have to be done some 10 to 15 years ago. We have that as a major aspect of it. That is about N15b for the second runway.
“We equally have a proposal again for Katsina airport where we intend to set up aircraft maintenance station.

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To resuscitate Ajaokuta Steel, N3billion must be provided in 2021 budget says senate

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To resuscitate Ajaokuta Steel, N3billion must be provided in 2021 budget says senate

***world Bank notifies FG of plan to pull out of salary payment for some staffers

Senate committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development has indicated that Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project which has been under construction for close to 40 years, may afterall be  mirage if N3billion is not provided for its reactivation in 2021.

of the 21 plants next year , said t

The Chairman of the Committee  Senator Tanko Almakura ( APC Nasarawa South) spokeas he lamented that Staffers of the Iron and Steel Complex  working in Mining Cadastral Office, will not be getting their monthly salaries from January next year as the World Bank responsible for that had indicated its plan to pull out of the offer from January 2021.

Senator Almakura who gave the indication in Abuja Saturday, said the N3billion required is for facilitating the engagement of experts from Russia to reactivate 21 of the plants in the Iron and Steel Complex, was not captured in the 2021 budget of the Ministry Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals.

He said he had made presentation to that effect to the Senate Committee on Appropriation during presentation of the 2021 budget estimates of the Ministry to the committee on Thursday last week.

According to him, the remarks by  the Committee chairman Senator Jibrin Barau ( APC Kano North) for provision of the money in the final report on  the 2021 budget, was not assuring enough .

“Nigeria has sunk so much resourses on the Ajaokuta project for many years than and it cannot now allow just N3billion make her decades old efforts, futile.

“Resuscitation of Ajaokuta is key to Industrialization and development of the country. The Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals Ministry appealed to us during budget defence , to effect Appropriation for the N3billion .

“Since we cannot on our own as joint committees on Mines, Steel and Solid Minerals, increase the envelope of the budget presented to us by the Ministry, we pushed the appeal to the Appropriation Committee for the required appropriation .

“The N3billion is very necessary to be provided for in saving the Iron and Steel Project from slipping into permanent comatose status”, he said .

He added that completion of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project, would serve as required catalyst for diversification of the Nation’s economy which is one of the key policies of President Muhamnadu Buhari led government .

On staffers who may not be collecting their salaries from next year January, Senator Almakura explained that they are contract staff working at the Mining Cadastral office of the Complex whose monthly salaries have been paid in the past years, from interventions from the world Bank.
The World Bank had since notified the country that it will stop that gesture after December this year.

When contacted on phone whether the N3billion will be appropriated as additional fund for the Iron and Steel Company , Senator Barau was evasive.

He said though  diversification of the Nation’s economy is a necessity at this time  but paucity of funds remains the stumbling block in acceding to such demands since the 2021  N13.08 trillion budget was projected on expected revenues and not monies already warehoused somewhere.

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