…Condemns Budget Allocation for Mine Exploration, Steel Development
The Senate, meeting in Abuja on Monday, accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of being completely out of touch with reality in the country.
A clearly enraged Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development, and Metallurgy stated that the federal government proved by its “meager financial allocation” to the industry that it was unsure what it required to properly diversify the country’s economy.
Tanko Al-Makura (APC Nasarawa South), Chairman of the Committee and former Nasarawa State governor, slammed the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development’s budget, claiming that “the yearly ritual called budget is garbage in, garbage out, which will not take the country anywhere in terms of required diversification.”
“The type of budgeting process being carried out in this country over the years is stereotypic one. It is wrong for budget to be conceptualized in the ministry, enveloped and forward to the National Assembly for approval “.
The Senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi tolled Al-Makura’s position when he spoke to newsmen on the sideline of the committee’s interface with ministry officials that the N23.4billion 2022 budget estimates was “grossly inadequate and a clear indication that the federal government was not in tune with the realities on ground.”
Presenting the budget before the Committee of the Upper Chamber, the Minister of State (Mines and Steel), Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, gave a breakdown of the figure, noting that out of the N23.4billion budget profile for the Ministry in 2022, N10billion is for personnel cost , N1.47billion for overhead cost and N11billion for capital Projects .
However Senator Adeyemi queried “how on Earth would a Minister propose N82billion for procurement of Mosquitoes net and a sector as important as the Solid Minerals, given N10 or N11billion?” he fumed.
“Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex that can give jobs to about 50, 000 Nigerians is lying fallow in a country with army of unemployed youths who can stage 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
But the Minister in his response said envelope budgeting was not the creation of the ministry as it affects 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 looks 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 .
He further stated that even with the envelope budgeting and lean resources, the Ministry has changed the narrative of low internally generated revenue to very appreciable figures now.
“In recent past, it used to be N2billion on yearly basis but has increased to N6.2billion now with a target of hitting N10billion by the end of the year “, he said.
However, as a result of short notice given the Ministry for the budget presentation, the Committee later reschedule Monday next week for detailed Defence of 2021 budget implementation and presentation of 2022 budget estimates respectively.