Reps threaten transportation ministry with zero allocation
The House of Representatives on Tuesday said the Ministry of Transportation would get zero allocation in the 2017 budget if it failed to provide clear explanation and figures on how it spent the funds appropriated to it in the 2016 fiscal year.
According to the lawmakers, the ministry has not spent the over N243bn that it has so far received for the implementation of some of its 2016 budget items.
They stated this at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja during an oversight visit.
The visiting lawmakers were members of the Joint House of Representatives Committees on Aviation, Land Transport, Maritime, Safety and Administration, as well as Ports, Harbours and Waterways.
The Chairman, House Committee on Maritime, Safety and Administration, Mohammed Bago, told journalists after an extensive session with the ministry officials, led by the minister, Rotimi Ameachi, that the lawmakers were not in any way satisfied with the presentation and documents made available by the ministry.
He said the figures in the ministry’s budget performance document for 2016 were not consistent, adding that the House had demanded that a new document on its expenditure should be provided to the National Assembly if the ministry wished to get budgetary allocation for this year.
“Most of the figures in the document they presented are not consistent and that is why we have asked for a new document as well as other related documents in order to ascertain the value of what the projects they talked about really is,” Bago said.
On whether the House would appropriate funds for the ministry, Bago stated, “Not yet, until we have a clear document. Let me tell you and reassure you of something, if we don’t have the facts and figures, the Ministry of Transportation will get zero allocation.
“Let me tell you something, they have received N243bn and they have not spent it; when other people like Ministry of Health need funds, because people are dying of meningitis. The Nigerian Army officers are dying in Sambisa because there’s no money to fund the soldiers and the Ministry of Transportation is sitting on billions of naira released to it without utilising them.”
Bago added, “If not because of the extension that was given to them till May, by the end of this month, this money would have been swept by the Ministry of Finance. We have just come out of a presentation and based on the presentation they gave us, we have seen zero spending.
“So, as far as we are concerned and based on the document they have given us, what we see is zero spending. Unless they give us the document to show that they spend this money, we cannot continue to allocate funds to them.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, Aminu Sani, wondered why Ameachi would announce that his ministry planned to extend some rail line projects beyond their original points of termination when constructed.