• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Budget defence: Senate hits hard on SEC

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Despite the exit of the erstwhile director general, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh, the face-off between the National Assembly and the commission is far from over.This became apparent on Thursday when the commission’s acting DG, Munir Gwarzo, led a delegation to the Senate Committee on Capital Market for its 2015 budget defence.The committee descended on the new SEC leadership over what it called flagrant abuse of constituted authority.

Specifically, they queried Gwarzo for not only disobeying a court order on the N30 billion bond to Gombe State but also spending the 2014 budget which was not approved by both chambers of the National Assembly.Tempers were high at the budget defence, as a member of the committee, Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), asked a member of the Gwarzo-led SEC to ‘swear to an oath’ before presenting his position.First to throw the first salvo was chairman of the committee, Ayo Adeseun, who posited that regardless of the approval given by the board of SEC on budget estimates, it remains a proposal if it is not approved by the National Assembly.“If your board approved that is not the end of the story. After your board approval, whatever comes from the board is still a proposal. But that didn’t happen for 2014,” he stated.

A member of the committee, Magnus Abe, wondered why the commission would give additional N10 bilion to Gombe State as bond when the initial N20 billion was enmeshed in controversy including a court order.
He stated, “For a state that receives less than N3 billion a month and they now have an obligation of over N700 million on loans tied to their allocation. I think that the whole culture of irresponsibility and disdain for the feelings of Nigerian people is reflecting in everything that this commission is doing. “There must be some kind of behaviour for some kind of behaviour. If we don’t do that then we are failing the people of this country”.

Also speaking, Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, expressed anger that the future of people of the state has been mortgaged, adding that “one of the projects they said they spent N10 billion, we found out that they have not spent up to N200 million”. According to him, if the issue of last year’s budget wasn’t resolved, the committee would not be a party to 2015 budget proposal. “It is becoming obvious to us that SEC survived on the basis of illegality. The Gombe State government took a loan of N20 billion and there were serious allegations that the loan was not judicially utilised. And there were petitions in the paper. We know Oteh’s inadequacies but she was careful enough not to approve the additional N10 billion until the issues raised were resolved. People have gone to court challenging the utilisation of that money.

“As careless as Oteh was, she didn’t approve it. Immediately you assumed office, less than two weeks you approved it, disregarding all the weighty issues raised by the people of Gombe. You indebted us recklessly. We have been mortgaged. Everybody was wondering why you, DG, who is just aspiring for confirmation. Oteh who was substantive DG did not approve it, you acting DG who will come before this committee for confirmation decided to ignore the people of Gombe State and approved N10 billion for them without resolving those issues.”