16 December 2012

Nigeria: Senate Committee Queries Five Million Handsets for Rural Women

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, has expressed concern over the omission of five million telephone handsets for rural women in the budget proposal of the Ministry of Communications Technology.

Nnaji, who spoke during the 2013 budget defense session with the Ministry of Communication and allied parastatals at the National Assembly, warned government agencies that were in the habit of generating revenues without remitting same to national coffers to desist from the practice or face the full wrath of the law.

It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had directed during his budget proposal presentation in October that five million handsets be made available to rural women farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to boost agro-allied and economic activities at the grassroots.

In a statement sent to THISDAY, the Media Adviser to the Committee Chairman, Egbo Mon-Charles, said that the minister explained that the project was to be handled by the Universal Service Provision Fund, a sister agency to the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC).

But, according to the statement, the committee chairman had described the omission as unacceptable and announced that the committee would look into it immediately.

Also, the Post-Master General of the Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Mori Baba, had during the budget defense stated that due to irregular and insufficient grant from government, Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST), had continued to spend the generated revenue in carrying out its programmes and projects.

Following this, Senator Nnaji decried the situation and threatened that the National Assembly would not hesitate to sanction any defaulting agency in the event that such trend continued.

The Minister for Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, presented a budget proposal of N3, 431, 127, 753 which includes a personnel cost of N1, 962, 374, 065; overhead cost of N127, 577, 355; total recurrent and capital respectively N2, 089, 951, 419 and 1, 341, 176, 753.

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