Abuja — Chairman of the House of Representatives Commitee Commitee on Appropriation, Hon. Mustapha Dawaki, has divulged the reasons why the National Assembly threw out projects proposals from the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
Reacting to controversy trailing the 2017 budget following statement attributed to the minister, Dawaki revealed that the proposals were rejected because they were considered exorbitant and unrealistic.
He disclosed that the minister made a proposal of N17 billion for environmental impact assessment for Mambilla power project but was also turned down as it made no sense to spend that amount on consultancy alone.
The lawmaker who made the revelation in an interview with Leadership at the weekend, also said that the minister's proposal of N20bn for pilot solar street lights in some Nigerian universities was struck out adding that the money was spread around other pressing projects across the country.
He said: "Fashola put N17 billion for environmental impact assessment for the Mambilla project. N17 billion just for consultancy; for what? How much is the project itself? When we asked him he said it was an error; it was a wrong description. A wrong description that if overlooked would have cost us so much.
"If the National Assembly was a rubber stamp, it would have just approved it and the money will be taken and siphoned; God will not forgive us as representatives of the people of this nation"
The chairman further said that the minister equally included another N20bn raised eyebrows, lamented the suspicious proposals contained in the budget which he said would cost the country billions of naira but for the intervention of National Assembly.
According to him, "He also put N20 billion for pilot scheme on solar street light in Nigerian universities. If we are crying that we don't have resources; our economy is recessed and we are trying to get out of recession and have various other very important infrastructural projects that need attention how can you earmark N20 billion for pilot scheme for solar street lights.
"Even if you want to do that, do for just six universities by taking one from each zone. That is why we took that N20 billion to somewhere else where it would be more useful. These are the kind of things he is complaining about.
"If you go through the budget, especially the capital provisions, you will weep for this country because some of the projects are just waste of resource. And because we don't have resources to publish some of these things in the media we end up being blackmailed", Dawaki said.
He continued: "That is why Fashola can list projects and syndicate it to the media that this is not what National Assembly approved; complaining that National Assembly cut the budget and put skill acquisition centers, boreholes; solar street lights, block of classrooms.
"But his own budget that was presented to National Assembly had all these things; over N1.5 billion was inserted for these things and with all the locations from the ministries; we don't know who owns those projects; does it mean the ones he inserted are more important than the ones we put?
"Besides, all these things are going to Nigerian villages; we are not taking them to Ghana or Cameroun; let him be aware that this is a federal institution working for Nigerians; every legislator is interested in taking something back to his constituency; but for these interventions, you won't see federal presence in most constituencies; it is because of our representation here that we ensure these things go to our people", he submitted.
While noting the need for all arms of government to work together in order to deepens our democracy and develop the nation, Dawaki "I believe that whatever it is, if we put our heads together we can move the country forward. No democracy can operate without a legislature; it is only the legislature that will suffer; the military government will have their executive and judiciary; we should learn from even smaller countries like Ghana which operates a uni-cameral legislature".