The House of Representatives has described the statement of the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, as regards the 2017 budget as “misleading and mischievous”.
In a statement on Saturday, the House described the minister’s statement as an attempt to blackmail the National Assembly and set it on a collision course with the executive.
The lawmakers said the minister was fixated on matters of power, rather than issues that will benefit the Nigerian people.
Fashola had earlier accused the lawmakers of inserting in the 2017 budget, projects that were not priority of the government.
Fashola said it was unfair for such distortions to occur after public hearings had been held to discuss the budget.
Responding to the charge, the chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Publicity, Abdulrazak Namdas, said the decision to redistribute the projects proposed by the ministry was in order to ensure an even spread of projects across all regions, which the proposal of the executive had failed to do.
The House reacted after the senate also criticised the minister.
Namdas said considering that the funds allocated for the second Niger Bridge in 2016 were returned untouched at the end of the year, the National Assembly decided to reduce N5 billion from the 2017 Budget for second Niger Bridge to fund other projects from the South East, leaving N7 billion for the 2nd Niger Bridge.
“The truth is that in the 2016 Budget, N12 billion was appropriated for the 2nd Niger Bridge and not a kobo was spent by the Ministry,” he said.
“The Ministry could not provide the Committees of the National Assembly with evidence of an agreement on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) or a contract for the second Niger Bridge,” Namdas said.
Namdas added that the National Assembly had to intervene to fund some other critical roads that were totally neglected in the Executive Budget proposal.
He listed some of the roads as the Abuja- Kaduna–Zaria–Kano Road.
“N5 billion was provided in the 2016 Budget. It was not utilised. In 2017 Budget, the National Assembly again provided N3 billion for this very critical road that connects many states and where incidents of kidnapping are rife because of bad roads, as we believe that all parts of Nigeria deserve attention or would the Minister also claim that this road has no design?” Namdas queried.
On the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the lawmaker said the leadership meetings of both the Executive and Legislature were held, where it was clarified that alternative funding exists for the road through PPP arrangement and the concessionaires had enough money to fund the project, hence the decision to move some funds to other areas of need.
“Why spend government money if there is a clear existing funding framework in place and so many ongoing road projects are unfunded?” Namdas asked.
He urged the minister to be mindful of the fact that the budget of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is not his personal budget but that of the Federation.