Senate Committee on Appropriations commenced its meeting with its Subcommittees with a prayer by Senator Barau Jibrin, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations.
The Committee on Appropriations met with the Committee on Solid Minerals Chaired by Senator Tanko Al- Makura.
“The Committee observes that in view of Nigerians diversity, the Ministry should be adequately funded. We all know as legislators, that one of the most challenging issues we have in Nigeria, is our reliance on oil, any means to diversify and create more avenues for wealth we should support it.”- Senator Tanko Al- Makura.
“Every state in the federation has one kind of solid mineral or the other. Most of our miners are small scale miners.”- Senator Tanko Al- Makura.
“Your comment is very crucial to our economic development and we must ensure that this particular sector is developed.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“I have an observation and they are in two ways: 1. Your clear departure from lay down rules and 2. Your increase in personel, I do not think the Committee has that power, it should have to go through the Commission or budget office.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“There are a lot of flaws in the report of this Committee.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“Government is not in the position to put money in the exploration of solid minerals. The Ministry should know better than the exploration of minerals is with the private sector, the Ministry should go out and source for investors”.- Senator Adamu Aliero.
“What the government will do is to create an enabling environment for investors. Your Committee should tell the Minster that they should not rely on the government to fund them.”- Senator Adamu Aliero.
Senator George Sekibo, Chairman Committee on Navy took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“A week before the budget scrutiny, the Committee went to Naval Command in Lagos to see things for ourselves. In summary, the basic functions of the navy is to secure our waterways, offshore oil rigs and platforms, oil wells and prevent illegal bunkering. If these basic functions have been carried out very well, it would have given us some money.”- Senator George Sekibo.
“The Federal government gave 40 small vessels to Nigeria navy to secure our internal water.“- Senator George Sekibo.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman, your report is very clear.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“The report has been properly harmonized.”- Senator George Sekibo.
“I think it is a very beautiful job and I appreciate your sympathy for the navy.”- Senator Abba Moro.
“I do not sympathize with the navy, I sympathize with Nigeria and Nigerians. If we empower the navy, we are going to make more money.”- Senator George Sekibo.
“I would have suggested that we treat the security budget in a different style. We should see how we can review the entire security budget to give us results.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Chairman Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) ably represented by Senator Eyakenyi Akon took her turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“The report before us is harmonized. It is an important Committee, education is one sector that should be given proper attention. The Committee met with all the MDAs, each of the agency under this Committee came with complaint of funding which is inadequate but we had to work with the envelope that was mandated.”- Senator Eyakenyi Akon.
“The Committee after interaction with the MDAs (17 in number) observed that the Ministry of Education obtained Presidential approval to fund its critical project in the 2020 fiscal year and with a request of additional N64billion. The next observation the Committee made was that WAEC made an additional request to purchase software and hardware and training for the staff. National Library also made an additional request for funds.”- Senator Eyakenyi Akon.
“The Committee recommended that the harmonized budget proposal be considered by the Committee on Appropriations.”- Senator Eyakenyi Akon.
“It is in the hands of the Appropriations Committee on what to do. Ours was to interact with the MDAs and find out what the problems are and present it to the house.”- Senator Eyakenyi Akon.
“Thank you very much. Your report is well put together and you met the conformity that was set out. You have a harmonized report. Let me give you kudos for doing exactly what you are supposed to do.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“Senator Akon and her chairman are very passionate about education. We commend them.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.
“Thank you very much.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Eyakenyi Akon submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Buhari Abdulfatai, Chairman Committee on Land Transport took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“We decided that we retain all that was brought. We just made some little adjustments in the line item and we conform with all requirements.”- Senator Buhari Abdulfatai.
Senator Buhari Abdulfatai submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Ajibola Basiru, Chairman Committee on Diaspora and NGOs took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“We have harmonized our report with the House of Representatives. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated zero naira as overhead for Nigeria Diaspora Commission. Being a new commission, there is much to be done.”- Senator Ajibola Basiru.
“What we did was to attach a request made by the commission for overhead to the report. The total budget of the commission is N497million.”- Senator Ajibola Basiru.
“How much was allocated for Capital?” – Senator Barau Jibrin
“N300 million.” – Senator Ajibola Basiru.
“We will allow N200million for capital and N100 million for overhead. Mr. Chairman thank you very much.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Ajibola Basiru submitted the report of the Committee.
Senator Ibrahim Gobir, Chairman Committee on National Security and Intelligence took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“The issue of security is not given adequate attention, the report is in conformity with the laid down rules and it is harmonized with the House of Representatives. There should be additional funds for security.”- Senator Ibrahim Gobir.
“How much increase are you asking for?.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“N64.1 billion.”- Senator Ibrahim Gobir.
“If what you are asking is crucial, then it should have come from the Executive.”- Senator Stella Oduah.
“I want to find out if your budget contains a line item to address kidnapping in this country.”- Senator Gershom Bassey.
“Yes.”- Senator Ibrahim Gobir.
“It is within the purview of the National Assembly to add or subtract from the proposal. I believe there were shortcomings on the executive to have provided the security with more money. Let me say that we appreciate the work you have done here, it shows the amount of seriousness that has been put here to make sure that you have a very good report.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
“We will do our best to address this shortcoming because we all understand the need to provide funding for security and intelligence in this country. Once we have the availability of funds we will try to do something.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Ibrahim Gobir submitted the report of the Committee.
Chairman Committee on Tourism took his turn in presenting the report of the Committee.
“The budget I am about to present is called ‘God Dey’ because of the amount involved. This is a harmonized report of Senate and House of Representatives. Great nations of the world are built on tourism. What I present here, no addition no subtraction, it is as it is. We are making a special request to the Senate for additional funds to kick start tourism. I want to present this as it is. We are making an additional request of N4billion for tourism.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman, you have done well. On the issue of the request of N4billion, we will look at that once we have money made available to us, we are not giving you any assurance but we will try our best.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.
Senator Rochas Okorocha submitted the report of the Committee.
The meeting is adjourned to Wednesday, 6th November 2019.
New Media Unit