NASS Flays Minister Over Inability To Defend Budget Performance | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NASS Flays Minister Over Inability To Defend Budget Performance

Rotimi Amaechi
Posted: Nov 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

 TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI – LAGOS — The Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Land Transport’s interactive session with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and his team from the ministry on Tuesday, 8th November 2016 ended in fiasco as the Minister and his team produced inconsistent and contradictory budget performance documents to the committee.

During the committees’ visit to the Ministry of Transport on Monday 31st October, 2016 in furtherance of their oversight function, it was agreed that the Minister and his team would be invited to the National Assembly to give a more detailed account of their budget performance in relation to the 2016 appropriation Act.

Senator representing  Lagos  East Senatorial District, Olugbenga Ashafa who led the legislators to the Ministry had on the said occasion chided the Minister and his team over their failure to submit the breakdown of the ministry’s budget performance in advance, the Senator later acquiesced to the Ministers request for any date comfortable to the committee to go through the said breakdown of Budget Performance.

However, on the 8th of October, 2016 when the Honourable Minister and his team again met with the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Land Transport, members were surprised when various contradictions were found between the copy of the budget performance document forwarded to the legislature and the document being read by the minister.

According to sources present at the said meeting, “some of the contradictions noticed on the document included date of commencement of some projects, source of funding of projects and how much had been appropriated to projects so far this year. On a particular project, the Honourable Minister and his team seemed not able to ascertain whether a project had benefitted from the SURE-P or not”.

The minister, who had continued to have arguments on the veracity of the figures in the document with his Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Saibu Zakari, and his Directors present at the briefing, immediately expressed his displeasure at the performance of his team and threatened to take disciplinary measures against any of the members of his team found culpable of such negligent preparation towards the oversight of the committee.

The visibly surprised lawmakers on their part expressed displeasure and dissatisfaction at the unpreparedness of the Minister and his team. Honourable E.J Agbonayinma, a member of the Committee, while addressing the Chairman of the committee stated that the committee must make its displeasure known to the Minister at the seriousness with which they approached the briefing.

It reportedly took the intervention of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport and his counterpart in the House of Representatives Honourable Aminu Isa to save the Ministry from further embarrassment, when both Chairmen agreed to give the Minister yet another opportunity to put his house in Order before appearing before the Joint Committee on the 21st day of November.

In adjourning the briefing, Senator Ashafa had stated that the Minister must take responsibility for the failings of his team as they had been given enough time to prepare to defend their performance so far and in turn, the Hon. Minister immediately took responsibility and promised to make amends before the next adjourned date. On that note the meeting was once again adjourned to November 21, 2016.