Chukwu David, ABUJA The Senate, yesterday, seriously tackled the Executive branch of government for sending to the National Assembly, envelope budgeting for approval every year.
The apex legislative Assembly, also via its Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines and Steel Development and Metallurgy, berated the Executive, for the abandonment of the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Project, by not providing required budgetary votes annually.
The rage of the lawmakers was triggered by proposed N23.4billion 2022 budget estimates, enveloped for the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, which was presented by the Minister of State, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah. Ogah, who represented the Minister, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite, in his presentation, said that out of the N23.4 billion budget profile for the ministry in 2022, N10 billion was for personnel cost, N1.47 billion for overhead cost and N11 billion for capital projects.
Provoked by the presentation, members of the Committee, took turns to bemoan the meagre budgetary allocation for the sector, which according to them, should rank second after the oil and gas sector.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, (APC, Nasarawa South), said: “The yearly ritual called budget, is garbage in, garbage out, which will not take the country to anywhere as far as required diversification is concerned.
“The type of budgeting process being carried out in this country over the years, is a stereotypical one. It is wrong for a budget to be conceptualised in the ministry, enveloped and forwarded to the National Assembly for approval.” In his contribution, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), said that the economic team of President Muhammadu Buhari process being carried out in this country over the years, is a stereotypical one.
It is wrong for a budget to be conceptualised in the ministry, enveloped and forwarded to the National Assembly for approval.” In his contribution, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), said that the economic team of President Muhammadu Buhari was completely out of tune with realities on ground as regards what Nigerians needed.
“How on earth would a minister propose N82 billion for procurement of mosquito nets and a sector as important as the solid minerals, given N10 or N11billion?” he fumed. “The Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex that can give jobs to about 50, 000 Nigerians is lying fallow in a country with an army of unemployed youths who can stage a revolution at any time.
“Nigeria is bleeding from this envelope form of budgeting riddled with repetition of line items and allocations on yearly basis. Government may be building infrastructure but building infrastructure is not as good as creating wealth through diversification of the economy.
“The best way of doing this is to remove whatever bottleneck hindering continuation of work on Ajaokuta Steel complex and get it completed,” he said. However, the minister in his response, said that the envelope budgeting was not the creation of the ministry, noting that the same system affected other government agencies. “My appeal to you distinguished Senators on the current model of budgeting is for the National Assembly to seek the attention of the president. “Operating with envelope as far as yearly budget is concerned, doesn’t make one think out of the box. It makes one look stupid. “We have the passion to drive the development of the country and transform into reality, the vision of Mr President like other patriotic Nigerians in one public office or the other,” he said.