The House of Representatives in Nigeria has queried the presentation of some government agencies on the implementation of the 2015 budget.
The Ministry of Finance and other agencies had appeared before an ad-hoc committee which is looking into the non-implementation of the capital component of the 2015 budget.
At the Tuesday’s session, the lawmakers also questioned the sketchy nature of the presentation of the Ministry of Finance, directing the agency to return with harmonised figures next week.
Last week, the agencies were told to return with relevant submissions that would help the House of Representatives understand why the capital projects in the 2015 budget were not being implemented.
They returned on Tuesday, with their new submission on the capital component of the budget, but the lawmakers were still not satisfied.
The Ministry of Finance team was led by the Director General of the budget office, Aliyu Gusau, who also gave the lawmakers the current status of the nation’s economy.
But the lawmakers were displeased with their presentation, with the Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Non-implementation of 2015 Budget, Aliyu Pategi, raising further issues about their presentation.
Once again the officials were sent away.
They are to return in one week, hopefully with submissions that will address the concerns of this committee once and for all.
The House of Representatives has again postponed investigations into the non-implementation of capital projects in the 2015 budget.
The Chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee on Non-Implementation of 2015 Budget, Aliyu Pategi, announced the postponement after some members questioned the absence of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance at the hearing.
Some of the lawmakers also questioned the submissions made by the different departments and agencies, saying the submissions did not address the concerns of the committee.
After putting off its investigative hearing last week, the ad-hoc committee of the House, looking into the non-implementation of the capital components of the 2015 budget were on hand to receive submissions from government agencies led by the Ministry of Finance.
The Chairman expressed the parliament’s concern over the implementation level of the budget.
The Director General of the Budget Office, Aliyu Gusau, however apologised for the inconveniences.
The Chairman then resolved that the hearing be put off till next week, even though it was made clear that the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance will be absent.
President Goodluck Jonathan will on Friday participate in a summit convened by President Francois Hollande in Paris, France, to discuss fresh strategies for dealing with the security threat posed by Boko Haran and other terrorist groups in West and Central Africa.
This is contrary to an earlier report that the President would visit Chibok, the community in Borno State, where over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect.
Reuters had on Thursday reported that the President would visit the North Eastern State, quoting senior government officials.
President Jonathan would be joined at the summit in Paris by Heads of State and Government of Benin Republic, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, it said that “Britain, United States of America and the European Union will be represented at the talks, which will give special attention to the coordination and intensification of efforts to curtail the destabilizing activities of Boko Haram and neigbouring countries in the wake of the recent abduction of college girls from Chibok, Borno state.”
President Jonathan, would be accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (Rtd.), the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.) as well as other principal aides and advisers and would return to Abuja at the conclusion of the summit on Saturday.
The House of Representatives has directed the Minister of Defense, Aliyu Gusau, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to appear before its committee on national security over the recent killing of over 200 people in Maru and Zurmi Local Government areas of Zamfara State.
The House also advised the Federal Government to build military barracks in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State to accommodate a battalion to boost security in the state.
These resolutions were taken after a motion under matters of urgent national importance were raised by Representatives, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau and Mohammed Onawo.
Following concerns that many residents of villages in the affected areas have fled their homes as a result of the insecurity, while those left live in persistent fear of being attacked, the House of Representatives passed a motion directing the security chiefs to appear before its Committee on National Security.
The renewed insurgent activities in Nasarawa and Benue states also came up during the proceedings, with lawmakers calling for the construction of a military barracks in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
Representative Mohammed Onawo told the House that 150million Naira was appropriated in the 2014 budget for the construction of the barracks but the contract was yet to be awarded.
The House also directed its committees on works and army to investigate the non-implementation of the project and recommend appropriate measures to overcome the challenges and report back to the House within one month
A Public Affairs Analyst, Emma Addo, on Friday said that the ambition of the new Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau, to have total control over the entire security apparatus of the nation would not work as the Nigerian Armed Forces Act and the National Defence Policy have defined his roles.
He also said that the ensuing power play between Gusau and the Service Chiefs was “normal” as “people are bound to want to flex muscles and lay the ground rules.”
Although, Mr. Addo, who was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, admitted that the new developments were not welcomed considering the security situation in the country, he, however, opined that “what has happened is normal” and would not affect the on-going battle against the Boko Haram insurgency.
Rumours that the Defence Minister had resigned filtered into the public domain following his absence at a Security Council meeting as a result of a disagreement with the Service Chiefs, which the Presidency debunked. Mr.Addo was of the opinion that the “the new minister is an old hand who we started hearing about from 1983 when General Buhari came to power. So, I think he has a long history”, adding that Gusau’s pedigree may have threatened the composure of the Service Chiefs.
Addo also mentioned that information in the public domain revealed that Gusau had asked the President to allow him be in charge of the entire Force just as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Coordinating Minister of Finance. However, “the military is a different ball game,” he added.
“There’s just no way it’s going to work out. If it works out for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it’s not going to work out for you.
“You see, the whole problem with this military thing is Gusau is course 3 and the new service chiefs and the CDS are course 21, 21, 23, 24. So from the word go, I think there was going to be problem.”
He went further to say “Gusau asking to be in total control of the Military is informed by one fact – that the North believes that they’ve not had a fair deal” in terms of position.
Addo also did not rule out the possibility of an attraction to personal gains as he suggested that Gusau may also want to reap the benefits of such influence, including the power to “vet appointments” and “vet contracts.”
Although the Minister In Charge of Defence oversees policy making, the CDS is in charge of the day to day affairs of the Force and the Service Chiefs, his subordinates. “If you look at all those put together, I am not too sure the military high commanders are wrong.”
Addo, however, allayed fears that the political struggle would affect the fight against the insurgents. “I think the military boys are doing their job and it’s the political aspect of it that’s playing out.”