2018 Budget: We Included New Projects To Correct Geopolitical Imbalance, NASS Replies Buhari
The National Assembly has explained that the adjustments made in the 2018 budget were made by the legislature to correct the alleged geopolitical imbalance in the Appropriation Bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, in a statement jointly signed by the House of Representatives, Razak Nandas, in Abuja on Friday also replied criticisms made by President Muhammadu Buhari that federal lawmakers amended the 2018 budget.
“Adjustments and reductions in the locations, costs and number of projects approved were made in order to address geopolitical imbalances that came with the Executive proposal.
“The number of projects had to be increased in order to give a sense of belonging to every geopolitical zone of the country to ensure socio-economic justice, equity, fairness, and to command National loyalty.
“The introduction of new projects was done to ensure the promotion of the principles of Federal Character as contained in Section 14, subsection (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria,” the lawmakers said.
The lawmakers, explaining the cuts made said this was done to reduce the funds in certain areas to areas of higher priorities like the generation of employment for Nigerian youths.
“It was stated that the legislature made cuts amounting to N347 billion which were meant for 4,700 projects. Again, these reductions of N347 billion were made from low priority areas to higher priority areas to support the generation of employment for our youth by MSMEs.
We took the decision to reduce the funds in some areas in order to ensure balance and equity in the spread and utilization of our national funds. Additionally, the figures given amounts of the reductions made by the National Assembly were unduly exaggerated as we did not make any substantial reduction on any project to the extent of affecting its implementation.”
They also gave the exact detail of the projects where deductions were made.
“It should be noted that the counterpart funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/Ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Road and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project, was reduced by only N3,956,400,290 – which represents only 1.78 % of the total N222,569,335,924 submitted by President Buhari. This left these projects with N218,612,935,634 which cannot negatively affect their implementation. This obviously contradicts the claim that these projects lost “an aggregate of N11.5 billion.”
Listing 24 projects added to the 2018 Appropriation Bill, the lawmakers said the additions were made due to the increase in the benchmark price of oil and they were duly appropriated by the National Assembly after full consultations, and in many cases, requests by the Executive branch through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Project Name Amount
1 Augmentation to unity schools meal subsidy in Education Sector 3,701,587,104
2 Outstanding liability on exchange rate differential for 2015 & 2016 Bea ongoing remittances to 12 Bea countries (scholarship) 3,265,720,064
3 Rehabilitation of block C, D, G & H at the Headquarters and Lagos state office of Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade & Investment 1,207,942,115
4 Construction of Kashimbilla/Gamovo multipurpose dam 2,000,000,000
5 Strengthening public health against LASSA fever/other outbreaks: procurement and installation of incinerators, procurement of personal protective equipment, ribavirin and laboratory reagents and training of health personnel, construction of isolation ward at University of Abuja teaching hospital, Gwagwalada 2,000,000,000
6 Fast Power Programme Accelerated Gas and Solar Power Generation 12,500,000,000
7 Expansion and reinforcement of infrastructure in 11 distribution companies to reduce stranded generation capacity 30,000,000,000
8 Alternative energy development fund 1,000,000,000
9 Completion of headquarters building (FMWA) 500,000,000
10 Construction of 3000 capacity maximum security prison in Abuja (Phase I) 6,031,862,972
11 Procurement of 3 x jf17 thunder aircraft 12,792,939,682
12 Security vote (including augmentation of shortfall in operational funds) for Nigerian Navy 3,000,000,000
13 Department of state security – pensions (including arrears) 6,318,326,710
14 Contributions to international Organisations 11,000,000,000
15 Contingency 2,800,000,000
16 Military operation: Lafiya dole & other operations of the armed forces 3,000,000,000
17 Subscription to shares in international Organisations 11,000,000,000
18 SDG special projects 3 8,000,000,000
19 Contingency (capital) 2,000,000,000
20 Promotion, recruitment & appointment for police service commission 5,393,947,080
21 Additional provision to some security agencies 10,000,000,000
22 Additional provision of 82b naira on critical federal roads e.g. rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano 10b naira, rehabilitation of Lagos-Badagry-Seme road 4b naira, rehabilitation/dualisation of Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene-Aba-Owerri Road 7b 92,000,000,000
23 Additional 12b naira to new federal universities 12,000,000,000
24 National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) 4,000,000,000
They, therefore, urged executive appointees to ensure that they brief President Buhari with the truth and facts of their engagement, “to promote healthy and harmonious relationships between the Executive and the Legislature.”
President Buhari had on Wednesday criticised the National Assembly for reducing allocations for some projects and including thousands of projects into the budget without consultation with the Executive.
He said, “The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation.
“Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualised, designed and cost and will, therefore, be difficult to execute.”
According to the President, not only did it take the lawmakers longer than expected to pass the budget, the final outcome was not what was expected.