The upper chamber of the National Assembly has rejected the N16 billion provided for in the Ministry of Environment’s budget for the payment of a debt which maturity deadline is in 2023.
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Environment, Ike Ekweremadu, who raised objection against the provision before the Senate Committee on Appropriation, explained that there are some discrepancies and such provisions had appeared in last year budget.
He said: “Last year as I said, there was N6 billion in the environment budget for the servicing of a multilateral loan regarding erosion control.
“Regrettably, about N1.5 billion of it was released to the environment and later the Ministry of Finance wrote, saying it was a mistake, that it was supposed to be from the Service-wide vote where they service most of the loans.
“So we took it in good faith but surprisingly, we now got another N16 billion for the same reason from the Ministry of Environment and because there was a directive from the leadership of the National Assembly that we should not tamper with monies provided for the multilateral loan.
“But we decided to find out what it is all about, eventually we invited the ministry who now said that by the time they got their envelope, the money they sent to Ministries to distribute to agencies, there was no such amount so by the time the money came to National Assembly, there was this N16 billion for the servicing of the new map loan.
“We asked when this money is due for service, they said it has 10-year monetarism, we can’t be providing for it until 2023.
“We also found out that about 21 states are benefiting from it and it is these states that will pay the loan and not the federal government. So, It is either we wait until 2023 before making provisions for it or we ask the states to start making provisions for it if they have to pay now.
“Even if the federal government has to pay it has to go through the service-wide votes not the respective budgets of the MDAs, it’s wrong. The anomaly is untidy.”
Also defending his report before the Appropriation Committee, Senator Ali Ndume, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, made a strong case for more funds for the Nigerian Army.
He said: “We are here to ask for an increase in the capital component of the Nigerian Army so that they will have the necessary resources and tools to prosecute the war they are engaged in, unconventional war everywhere.”
In his response, Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin Barau said the report submitted by Ndume “is precise and straight to the point. We are satisfied with your report.
“It is commendable what you are doing in this committee by making sure you do your oversight properly.
“The report speaks for itself, asking for more funds to be given to the army to carry out their statutory function. I believe they are doing well in that regard. The states are in the North: Jigawa, Sokoto, Borno, Kano, most states are in the North.”