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BIG STORY

REVEALED: How NASS Padded 2016 Budget With N481billion

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Buhari Budget Large

Documents have revealed how top officials of the National assembly padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N481billion.

According to Vanguard newspaper, the national assembly also unilaterally jerked the votes meant for constituency projects from N60 billion to N100 billion.

Recall that the sacked chairman of the House of Representatives committee on appropriation, Abdul Jibrin had said the Speaker allowed 10 committee chairmen to insert projects worth N284 billion in the budget.

The report said lawmakers removed some key projects proposed by the executive or drastically reduced their costs and introduced many others not contemplated by the Presidency which prepared the budget.

Among the projects which votes were surreptitiously jerked up without the knowledge of the executive, were Nigerian railway modernization project: Lagos – Kano standard gauge rail line project, which cost was raised by N32.5 billion and the consultancy dredging and river training works (N609 million) under the Ministry of Transportation.

Others are the Code of Conduct Bureau which had N4.4billion added to its vote, provision of broadband Internet Service to National Assembly by Nigcomsat, N318 million, Training and Consultancy for Nigcomsat 2 Project, N3.5 billion etc, in the Ministry of Communications.

Most scandalous, according to the document, is the case of Ministry of Works, Power and Housing where 82 new projects, principally roads, with a total provision of about N50.63 billion, were inserted in the budget.

Quoting documents seen by the newspaper, the Presidency, which reviewed the budget, said: “A large number of these projects are outside the mandate of the relevant Ministry (e.g. the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Works, Power & Housing); or statutorily outside the FGN’s mandate (like intra-city and state road projects); or cannot be implemented as there are no designs or costings made for them.

“The amounts proposed for some MDAs’ projects were increased significantly without due consultations on implementation capacity or additional financing needs for the projects. This amounts to tying down resources that could have been applied to more impactful projects in other areas.

“In addition, hundreds of new projects that have no relationship to the MDA’s were introduced and simply cannot be implemented. Among these are the construction of town halls, township street lights, procurement of transformers and tricycles under the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the building of classrooms under the Ministry of Agriculture etc.”

Also, the executive proposal of N4.06 billion for the provision for test kits, vaccines and anti-retroviral drugs under the Federal Ministry of Health was reduced to N1.01 billion.

“As a result of this reduction, there shall be vaccines stock-out by October 2016 and, among other things, the gains of polio eradication will be lost, and the government will be hampered in the battle against HIV.

“Very large cuts have been made to proposals for many important projects in several MDAs and the sums applied to fund hundreds of new projects. “The Bill (2016 budget) cannot be implemented in its current form because some of the figures in the Bill passed do not correspond with the figures in the budget details accompanying the Bill.

“The aggregate expenditure as contained in the budget details as passed, is higher than that in the Appropriation Bill by about N481 billion, compared to the Appropriation Bill.

“The executive made provision for the sum of N60 billion to be used by members of the National Assembly in funding their constituency projects. This was increased by the National Assembly to N100 billion.

“It is, therefore, unclear why, in spite of this increase, the National Assembly felt it necessary to divert funds from line Ministries for their constituency projects, having already provided for same in the Service Wide votes.

“The amounts allocated to a number of important projects in a number of key ministries have been so reduced that they cannot be implemented. The savings from these reductions have been re-allocated to hundreds of new projects which have not been designed or costed and so cannot be implemented.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: We Didn’t Arrest Magu, He Was Only Summoned Over Alleged Corruption Cases — DSS

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The Department for State Security (DSS) on Monday denied media reports of the arrest of acting Economic Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

The security agency said Magu was merely summoned by the presidential panel over alleged corruption cases.

Details shortly…

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BIG STORY

Lagos Traffic May Worsen As FG Plans To Shut Third Mainland Bridge From July 24 For 6 Months To Resume Renovation

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The already bad traffic situation in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial city, may get worse, as the Federal Government is set to shut down the popular Third Mainland Bridge, from July 24, for six months.

Olukayode Popoola, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, disclosed this on Monday, July 6, 2020.

According to Popoola, “We want to do maintenance work on Third Mainland Bridge very soon. Most likely on the 24th. We may close it from the 24th of July.’’

“We are still working out the modalities and when we perfect the traffic management plan we will move to site. Everything being expected for the repairs of the bridge arrived the country that is why we want to start the repairs now,’’

The 11.8km bridge is one of the major links between the Lagos Mainland and Lagos Island, and perhaps, takes heavier traffic than the rest of the bridges, which include Carter Bridge and Eko Bridges.

Its partial or full closure means more traffic will now flow to Carter and Eko Bridges. Incidentally, part of the Eko Bridge, from the Alaka end of the Funsho Williams Avenue had been closed to traffic for some months now.

Popoola said that the planned shut down is to enable the Federal Government to carry out maintenance work from July 24, 2020.

According to him, consultations are ongoing towards developing a perfect traffic management architecture that will be very efficient and effective.

There have been reports of some worn-out joints of the bridge, which raised some safety concerns for the users of the bridge. The Federal Government will be working with the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) on how best traffic during this period.

It was constructed in 1990 and was the longest in Africa until 1996 when the 6th October Bridge in Cairo, Egypt, was completed.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: DSS Arrests EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

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Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has been arrested by the Department of State Services.

Magu was arrested on Monday afternoon at the Wuse II, Abuja office of the EFCC on Monday over allegations that he was siphoning part of money recovered by the commission from suspected looters.

It was learnt that the security details to Magu put up a stiff resistance during the arrest of their principal, as they objected to the DSS move.

But he is now undergoing interrogation at the DSS Headquarters In Aso Drive.

Details later…

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