Nigeria lawmakers reject N6.97b ComTech Ministry’s budget
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
For failing to provide satisfactory details of how it spent the 2016 budget allocations, Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Communications yesterday rejected the N6.97billion 2017 budget of the Ministry of Communications.
The Committee, led by Hon Saheed Fijabi requested ComTech Minister, Barr Adebayo Shittu to provide a number of documents on projects, their locations, third party contracts, receipt vouchers for conferences/trainings as well as nominal roll for the Ministry among other documents.
The Committee said it will not consider the 2017 budget estimates until it embarked on an on-the-spot assessment of the projects contained in the 2016 budget document.
The budget session began with Shittu’s refused to explain the details of the budget saying the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Sunday Echono, who is the Accounting Officer of the Ministry was in the best position to respond to questions on the 2016 document.
The Ministry is proposing to spend N5.964billion for capital projects, N742.880million on personnel while N216, 880million was proposed for overhead cost.
In his presentation, Shittu said contrary to what was on record, the Ministry received N3,095,437 billion as against N4,912,735, 231billion that was recorded for it on Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) platform for its 2016 capital expenditure.
The breakdown showed that of the 48 new and one on-going projects, the Ministry recorded 100 per cent performance on capital budget release of N3,095,437billion that was fully accessed.
For the year under review, N216, 791,496million was appropriated for Overhead while N138,905,138 million was released leaving a balance of N77.9million.
N600,239,582million was also appropriated for personnel cost out of which N695, 877, 059million was released.
Completely shocked about the finances of the Ministry, the lawmakers requested for explanations about why money released for personnel was greater than money appropriated.
The Committee asked why N8million was spent on presentation at Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Explanation on the procurement of computers for N12million was also sought by the lawmakers.
The committee questioned the N4. 9million spent on supervision of an unspecified work.
On the construction of Information Communications Technology (ICT) centers in some parts of the country, the Ministry failed to execute any of the projects because of paucity of funds, forcing the Committee to wonder why projects that benefit Nigerians were not executed by the Ministry.
“With the document before us, there is a need for this Committee to oversight these projects because Nigerians have been blaming the legislature for not doing its job well.
“Going forward, we have to look at the procurement process and on-the-spot assessment of these projects has become inevitable.
“In addition, the Ministry should furnish the Committee with its nominal roll, indicating old and new workers.
“The provision of the details requested will determine how soon we will embark on the oversight visit and the consideration of the Ministry’s 2017 budget estimates.”