Funds ‘must better lives’
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria’s House of Representatives Communications Committee says funds allocated in the Appropriation Act must be spent well to better the life of the citizens.
The Committee therefore seeks for judicious use of budgetary allocations to government agencies, ministries and departments (MDAs) in the country, arguing that it could help address issues like frightening unemployment rate in the country.
Honourable Oyetunde Ojo, chairman of the committee who led other members to the Lagos Campus of Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Oshodi, said during an inspection of ongoing projects of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), that as representatives of the people, elected by the people, it is just appropriate that members see what the funds appropriated in the budget are used for.
The property housing the Lagos DBI campus used to be owned by former state-run but now moribund Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) but had over the years been neglected before the NCC acquired the property from the government and paid for it.
“The National Assembly appropriates the funds. We must see what the appropriated funds have been used for because at the end of the day, Nigerians will hold us accountable. Apart from being a knowledge-based institution, it is also going to take care of job creation. You can imagine how many people will be employed when it is completed. That is always our agitation with the House (with the executive over budget implementation),” the chairman said.
According to him, though the project started before the passage of 2012 appropriation bill, a total sum of N51 billion was approved for the NCC in year 2012 budget.
“This project started before the 2012 budget. N51 billion was appropriated in the 2012 budget, but not for this job alone. The NCC has other things like the payment of salaries and (execution) of other projects like the emergency communication centres that they are doing across the country which will have fire service equipment and ambulances,” he said, adding that the world is in the information technology age and Nigeria cannot sit back.
On his impression about the level of work done in the institute, he said the committee members are completely satisfied with what they saw on ground. “We are satisfied with what I have seen. I used to know this place before now because my constituency is not far from this area. This is a good transformation. May be it was because we have to push them to do this, but being here and seeing what is on ground, it is highly commendable,” Honourable Ojo said.
He said the committee had also realised that the direction the world was moving now is the digital direction, adding that ICT training was also very important. “If you go to the US, once you have a SIM (subscriber identity module) card, you automatically have broadband facility which means you have internet facility. That is the level we are going and that is why we said they should train their staff to meet up with the digital age,” he said.
Tony Ojobo, director, Public Affairs at the NCC, said the project would be completed on schedule and assured that fresh students would be admitted into the school by the next academic session. Ojobo added that the institute had, since inception, served as the training hub for top civil servants in the federal ministries, adding that state governments have also tapped into the knowledge pool of the institute.