The House of Representatives on Wednesday witness a visit of Service Chiefs, from Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Inspector General of Police (IGP), National Intelligence Agency (NSA), Department of State Security (DSS) and Minister of Defence, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru to defend N2.177 trillion 2023 Appropriation budget.
Others include, Senator David Umahi, Minister of Works; Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security; Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, National Independent Electroal Commission (INEC); Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike, Minister of Housing, among others.
In his welcome address, Abubakar Bichi, the Appropriation House Chairman informed that President Bola Tinubu transmitted the N2, 176,791,286,033 Supplementary Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly earlier this week which was sent to the Appropriations Committee for further deliberation and consideration.
According to him, the budget has been structured to improve the country’s security, food security, and critical road infrastructure sectors and to bridge the housing deficit in the country, including slum upgrades and urban renewal.
Bichi said the budget will cater to the upcoming off-cycle elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo States and also support the provisional wage to workers and cash transfers to vulnerable Nigerians.
He explained that, out of the sum of 476,543,847,421 proposed for Ministry of Defence, the sum of N215,937,945,659 is for recurrent expenditure while the sum of N260,605,901,762 is for capital expenditure.
Out of total sum of N200 billion proposed for Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the sum of N104.800 billion is for recurrent expenditure while the sum of N95.200 billion is for capital expenditure.
From the sum of N50 billion proposed for Police Formations and Commands, the sum of N29,661,660,269 is for recurrent expenditure while the sum of N20,338,339,731 is for capital expenditure.
Out of total sum of N29,700,606,916 proposed for office of National Security Adviser, the sum of N27,402,410,057 is for recurrent expenditure while the sum of N2,298,196,859 is for capital expenditure.
The sum of N100 billion was also proposed for Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCT); N49,046,831,697 is for Department of State Services (DSS); N28 billion is for State House; N300 billion is for Federal Ministry of Works; N100 billion is for Federal Ministry of Housing; N615 billion is for Service Wide Vote; N210.500 is for Capital supplementation; while the sum of N18 billion is for Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
“We have invited the relevant MDAs to defend and shed more light on their submissions. At the end of the hearing, we will collate our analysis in a report and send it back to the House” Bichi said.
In their separate contributions to the budget defense, Dave Umahi, Minister of Works noted that the sum of N300 billion proposed for the Ministry of Works is targeted especially to the highway sectors.
He said the 18.6 trillion is required to address the road sector in the next four years and appealed for the provision of contingency funds for the Ministry to deal with emergency situations as it pertains to the roads.
The Minister said the request for the 2023 supplementary budget became necessary to restore some of the funds removed from the 2022 supplementary appropriation to enhance project completion and provide emergency repair works on failed sections roads.
According to him, this is to ensure free flow of traffic on the federal roads network to enhance movement especially as yuletide approaches as well as tackle the problem of insecurity.
“On the whole, to address our road sector for the four years, we would be needing about N18.6 trillion and so the National Assembly must have to wear its thinking cap on how we can address seriously our road sector. I also appeal to the NASS that the executive to respect your motions on certain interventions. We must have a contingency fund. When you ask me to go and intervene on certain roads which have collapsed, and I have to liken the situation to a man on life support. The man needs immediate attention. Where there is an emergency the road is cut and the people are suffering, movement is stopped, it needs an emergency. So we appeal for contingency to respect your directives on fixing emergency situations,” he said.
Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who also appeared before the Committee to defend N18 billion allocated to the Commission said it would be used for personnel emoluments and the conduct of off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo States.
He said N13.8 billion is for personnel emoluments, N1.4 billion to augment the conduct of elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo N1.6 billion for the conduct of 11 by-elections for the national and State Assemblies.
While Abuabakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security who got N200 billion from the supplementary budget said N104.8 billion is for capital projects while 95.2 billion is for expenditure.
Giving a breakdown, he said, “We had a challenge of Anthrax, we had a disease that has threatened some states and if care is not taken it can wipe out livestock and it can be transferred to humans. It is important that it should be taken care of and we also have transboundary migratory pests like locusts so we have budgeted N9.1 billion for that purpose.
“In addition there is the issue of the strategic food reserve. So an amount of N25.5 billion has been earmarked for this. Also the provision of seeds and seedlings and other agric inputs for each zone of the country to the tune of N11.7 billion per zone.
“The National Agricultural Growth Scheme earmarked support for this at N25 billion. For the coming rainy season in 2024 we earmarked 11.7 billion per zone for the six zones of the country” he said.
Nyesom Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory who got N100 billion said N3.4 is earmarked for security equipment, saying the money would be used for the completion of the Abuja rail project among other infrastructure.
“Of course, there are infrastructure needs which have been abandoned before I came on board and these infrastructures need to be completed now that we have the dry season coming. When I came on board, I had to make some of these contractors like Julius Berger, to go back to work
“I believe that before we enter the rainy season next year this infrastructure and roads would have been completed. Again, talking about the completion of rehabilitation and take off of the Abuja rail project. You will agree with me that this project that Mr. President takes so important, and which will help in decongesting our traffic situation.
“I’ve been there as I came on board and Mr. President directed the day the Nigerian Bar Association held their annual conference that he wants to ride on this metro line, at least in his one year in office and which I think with your support we are going to achieve it.
“The amendment I want to make is this. Yes, it provided for N22 billion. Our problem is the dollar component of the project. You know this project was awarded in Naira and Dollar components.
“Right now, the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is saying that they need their $7 million component. I will plead if it is possible with this 22bn if looking at the differentials, if we can provide for the dollar component of $7 million and whatever that is remaining will be the Naira component. This is because we tried to pay them in Naira but they said that the contract was in Dollar and Naira components.”
Ahmed Dangiwa, Minister of Housing and Urban Development in his defense, who got N100 billion said the plan is to have estates in the 36 states and create avenues for affordable housing across the country, noting that the Ministry aims to build 34, 500 housing units across the country.
Meanwhile the Security Chiefs as well as the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle defended their budget behind closed doors for security reasons according to the Chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Bichi.