Senate Committee on Appropriations commenced its meeting with its Subcommittees at 11:10 am with a prayer by Senator Barau Jibrin, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations.
The Committee on Appropriations met with the Committee on Foreign Affairs Chaired by Senator Bulkachuwa Adamu.
“The submission we have is in line with the laid down rules and basic procedures. We have stayed within the limit and made some recommendations.”- Senator Bulkachuwa Adamu.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget has been declining from 2018 till date. The ministry is in bad shape as it has accumulated so much debt abroad because they could not pay for rents, medicals and other bills abroad. This is very very bad.”- Senator Bulkachuwa Adamu.
“We have 110 missions abroad and the 2019 budget was to cater for 36 of these missions.”- Senator Bulkachuwa Adamu.
“Your request of N5billion additional funds should be put in writing and we will look into that.”- Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
“We know about the problems, we are aware of that. I was in several countries and the ambassadors really lamented. The issue is a scarcity of funds. If the money is available, we will make appropriations. Thank you Mr. Chairman, you have done a wonderful job and harmonized with the House of Representative.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Bulkachuwa Adamu submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Danjuma Laah, Chairman Committee on Federal Character took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I have about 11 agencies and parastatals Including Federal character and State House. There is no increase nor reduction.”- Senator Danjuma Laah.
“On FRSC, they requested for about N2billion and they have important things to do. I pray this Committee do us a favour by granting us the approval. The FRSC request comes with the increasing demand to reduce road traffic to the nearest minimum.”- Senator Danjuma Laah.
“The report should be signed by the Committee on Federal Character of the House of Representatives. You need to have harmonized report, without this, we cannot pass this into law. By the time you have a harmonized report, this will be included in the budget.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Shuaibu Isa Lau, Chairman Committee on Public Procurement takes his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“The Bureau of Public Procurement is the only agency under our purview and we hope their budget will be sustained.”- Senator Shuaibu Isa Lau.
“A precise and straight to the point report of which has also been harmonized with the House of Representatives.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Shaibu Isa Lau submitted the report of the Committee.
Minister of Trades and Investment, Niyi Adebayo present as he had earlier been invited by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
“We invited the Committee on Trade and Investment to shed light on why N14billion allocated to a private company should not be taken away.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“Little is known on this file about that company; the company was incorporated in 2018 and by 2017, funds have been allocated to the company. When the Ministry came for budget defence, they could not throw any light on it. We have asked the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) to do same but he could not. He said the agency was not involved in the corporation and is neither a shareholder.”- Senator Rose Oko.
“What the government had planned to do is to set a special zone for each region where the industrial activity will take place, that is the content of setting up the company. Unfortunately, when it was being conceptualized, the former minister felt it should be set up outside of normal ministry.” – Niyi Adebayo.
“It is a private company in which the government itself will be the largest shareholder. What we have done as a ministry now is we believe the government should hold a share in the company but because of the investigation going on, we have stepped it down. Once investigations are completed we will sit down and look at the proper manner to set it up so private investors that are coming in will hold a share.” – Niyi Adebayo.
“The money that was appropriated to the company previously is in custody of the Central Bank and we are just waiting for proper issues to be ironed out.”- Niyi Adebayo.
“This is a very straight forward explanation and this is what we expect from you.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“I think as a rider to what Senator Barau said, you made it very simple to us. The chairman of your Committee had explained what had happened in the past; for the special zones to be approved there need to be several approvals otherwise you have no ownership.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“Everything has been put on hold until the matters are resolved. So for us no appropriation this year. We will tell the executive not to worry so when the investigations are resolved, we appropriate.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“You have N14billion lying somewhere when we are looking for money to fund projects, it does not make any economic sense. My suggestion is, Mr. Chairman if you confirm the money is there at the Central Bank, look at tourism, NFIU and other departments. I think we should use the power of appropriations and use the funds in the 2020 budget.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.
“We have taken our decision and we are proud of your achievements, this is the pointer. Whenever the investigations are over we will tell Mr. President to bring a supplementary bill and we will consider it.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Clifford Ordia, Chairman Committee on Local and Foreign Debt took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“Joint Committee recommendation: Domestic debt N1.7trillion, Debt service N2.4trillion. The total budget for the Debt Management Office: N2.74trillion.”- Senator Clifford Ordia.
“DMO is fulfilling its mandate. All provisions were sustained as they relate to DMO, debt services and payment of local contractors.”- Senator Clifford Ordia.
“Your report is well put together and we thank you for conforming with the criteria set up by the Committee. It is important you bring the harmonized report to our secretariat as soon as possible.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Betty Apiafi, Chairman Committee on Women Affairs took her turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“The Committee has under its purview two MDAs. As of last week, nothing has been released for the Capital budget for 2019. I want to make an appeal that if this Ninth Senate is truly gendered sensitive, more funds should be allocated to the Ministry.”- Senator Betty Apiafi.
“You have done very wonderfully in trying to analyze the budget of women affairs. This budget is a very sad one; Nigerian women constitute more than 70% of this country; it is not only when men need votes that they should consider us.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“It is nearly impossible having women being part of national growth with a budget such as this. I want to plead with my colleagues that we should all plead with the leaders of the Ninth Senate that this is very sad for Nigerian women to have a total budget of N3billion. It is totally sad and it is not acceptable. I believe the Senate President and the Appropriations Committee Chairman will do the needful.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“Honestly I feel like crying on this budget. I am saying so because it has hurt all. There is a need for young girls to be supported even for adults particularly those who are in schools. I think I cannot agree less, I totally agree with this submission that something is done.”- Senator Aliyu Sabi.
“We are not fair to our mothers and sisters; as a Senate, we have not been fair to them. Until we have women stand up to be recognized in this country, this story will continue from generation to generation. I think the time has come for women to close their doors and refuse entry to any man.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.
“I think we should all support anything that has to do with women. For this committee, all of us are on course to right the wrong. When I was governor, I reserved 48% of my cabinet for women.”- Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
“Women should be supported in all human endeavours; over 60% of the votes we got in 2019 are from women. We should support whatever will advance the cause of the women and this is what the Minister for Women Affairs is doing. This budget is so small that it can hardly make any impact.”- Senator Adamu Aliero.
“We must do all we can to ensure that women achieve parity with the men.”- Senator Gershom Bassey.
“Thank you, members, of this Committee for your support for women. There is no doubt that we need to improve the budget of Women Affairs. We are really in a very tight situation to make funds available; we will explore where we can gather money. In the event that we are able to muster anything, I want to assure you that we will make some intervention.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Danladi Sankara, Chairman Committee on Information and National Orientation took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I am here for submission of a harmonized report of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the 2020 budget of the FMIC and its agencies.”- Senator Danladi Sankara.
“Movement of funds is not allowed from one agency to another. You cannot increase the budget unilaterally without getting approval from the Appropriations Committee. I have observed three places where that was done like the Nigerian Film Corporation where you hijacked the budget upward. This is certainly above the threshold given to us and there is a need for your Committee to explain this.”- Senator Adamu Aliero.
“The point I will like to highlight is the decrease in Nigeria Broadcasting Corporations (NBC) and I know the challenges they have to deal with like the issue of hate speech which they are required to monitor. The Managing Director said recently that monitoring is a very difficult task for them as they have to battle with a large number of television and radio stations. Along this line, I was curious and thought maybe along the line these issues can be straightened.”- Senator Aliyu Sabi.
“You can make adjustments up to 5% within the Ministry. Once it is within the same Ministry you can do that.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“The total package of this budget is intact and no single kobo went out.”- Senator Danladi Sankara.
“Thank you for the good response given to the questions that were raised. The clerk should ensure that the whole report is in conformity with the laid down criteria.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Dimka Hezekiah, Chairman Committee on Drugs and Narcotics took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I am here to present a harmonized report of the Senate and House of Representatives Committee. The Committee met with the chief executive of NDLEA and it is very clear that there is much to be done to see an improved NDLEA. It is important that the future of every nation depends on the youth. If care is not taken, the youths are almost being destroyed by way of drug abuse. It is important that this Committee will look into this properly.”- Senator Dimka Hezekiah.
“Your presentation is very straightforward and really addresses the issue of why we need to tackle drug abuse particularly among the youth. In most of the local government within my zone, we actually know where they sell these drugs and I believe NDLEA also know where these people are but they actually cannot do anything. I cannot do anything about it because I also do not have the capacity to handle them. Something meaningful needs to be done. I think we are not doing enough at all on sensitization. I think it is something that we must find a way to dialogue and agree on where to progress from now on.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“The point being made by my Vice-Chairman, Senator Stella Oduah is very apt. I think the Committee should find a way to bring up issues earlier enough perhaps the Senate can discuss and put it in the front burner.”- Senator Aliyu Sabi.
“Thank you very much.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Dimka Hezekiah submitted the report of the Committee.
Chairman Committee on Army ably represented by Senator Abba Moro took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I am here to submit a harmonized report between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The army made a proposal for N561,568,689,464billion. Each of the items the army has budgeted for is very critical.”- Senator Abba Moro.
“Thank you.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Abba Moro submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Nnachi Michael, Chairman Committee on Air Force took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I submit our appropriations report to the Committee as harmonized. The budget of the Air Force needs to be looked into, if we must chase out Boko haram, Air Force needs to be empowered. We did not increase or adjust what has been given to us. We are in conformity with everything submitted.”- Senator Nnachi Michael.
“The helicopters we ordered from the US, when are they coming?.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“They will start coming from March, by then we will start having the first delivery.”- Senator Nnachi Michael.
“What is the helicopter’s capability?.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“They form a platform for the execution of terrorist and equipped with a remote sensor to locate terrorist hideout.”- Senator Nnachi Michael.
“I will completely support you to make sure that we end the war against insurgents and provide security for Nigeria.”- Senator Abba Moro.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman for the comments and respond to all the questions raised.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Nnachi Michael submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Aishatu Dahiru, Chairman Committee on Sustainable Development Growth (SDGs) took her turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“We are here to present the harmonized report. The Committee interfaced with the MDAs that have signed projects with the SDGs and we are comfortable with their submission.”- Senator Aishatu Dahiru.
“The committee has not made any changes, what was proposed is what is before you.”- Senator Aishatu Dahiru.
“You have done a wonderful job and if there is anything we will call you back.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Aishatu Dahiru submitted the report of the Committee.
Chairman Committee on Aviation ably represented by Senator Ibikunle Amosun took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I am going to allow Senator Sani Musa to present.”- Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
“We are here to present the appropriations proposals of the Federal Ministry of Aviation. The report is harmonized with the House of Representatives.”- Senator Sani Musa.
Senator Sani Musa submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo, Chairman Committee on Industries took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I am here this afternoon to submit the harmonized report between the Senate and House of Representatives.”- Senator Sikiru Adebayo Osinwo.
“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman for this report. You have done a wonderful job and we congratulate you for what you have done.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Sikiru Adebayo Osinwo submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, Chairman Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“We are conversant with your report. We know your plight, we know your problem. Thank you for working in conformity with the criteria that was set up.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Ayo Akinyelure, Chairman Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“I am here to present the harmonized report of the committee on ethics.”- Senator Ayo Akinyelure.
“The budget has been approved by both Houses and we are presenting it to your Committee for kind consideration.”- Senator Ayo Akinyelure.
Senator Ayo Akinyelure submitted the report of the Committee.
The meeting is adjourned to Tuesday, 5th November 2019.
New Media Unit