Bauchi Assembly’ll intensify oversight this year, says Appropriation C’ttee Chair
There are some projects that affect rural communities like Ningi- Burra Road, Alkaleri- Futuk road Kafin Madaki, and Zaki General Hospital, Bauchi State Specialist Hospitals which government claimed to have paid 70% down payment, some were awarded five years ago but people keep seeing them in budget even in this year 2013 budget they were mentioned?
Well, for Kafin Madaki and Zaki General Hospital they were completed and for the roads and specialist Hospital they are still ongoing and the roads have reached 70- 80 %. I believe all of them will be completed this year and there are many ongoing projects like ten community Radios that will educate the rural communities. Already the governor had commissioned five, the remaining five will be completed this year. There are also many rural roads and hospitals and provision of urban and rural water projects that 2013 budget will address.
During public hearings, most of the ministries complained of non release of funds in time which slowed down most of their activities; how do you intend to address these problems?
Well, actually this is the major area of concern that disturbed the law makers because we are representing people in rural and urban areas and all the people want is development because we need to see developmental projects in our constituencies. When we visited our constituencies, we discovered that government awarded many contracts that will bring development but the non release of funds hacked the project. I believe the problem is connected with dwindling resources but 2013 will be different to the all Bauchi communities because the state government has taken many measures that will boost the revenue of the state internally. But despite all odds, we commended the office of SSG for maintaining a balance sheet; the performance of his office is worthy of emulations by all government ministries. For that the House had sent him a commendation letter, so we use carrot and stick in our duty.
Since you talk of revenue, how do you assess the revenue generation agencies in the state?
They are not performing up to our expectations most especially the ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Tourism and culture ,where we have many companies under it like the Bauchi Meat Factory, Fertilizer Blending Plants, Hotels like Zaranda Hotel, Arewa Ceramics and many others. Under Ministry of Tourism, we have Yankari Express. But when we received the profile of these ministries, their submissions are quite disturbing but we have done a lot to address the problems. As I told you earlier, the state government has taken stringent measures to improve internally generated revenue in 2013 budget which will enhance the performance of these ministries.
While you were not impressed by the profiles of the ministries, did you notice the problem of corruption?
No, we did not notice any issue of corruption but we noticed misplacement priorities. We have made a lot of recommendations and the House will write to the executive for implementation.
Can you tell us some of your findings and recommendations?
No I will not disclose them but you will see some positive changes in the state this year 2013; and for our recommendations, you have to be patient and wait until after we have submitted our recommendations to the executive. When you go to them they will tell you.
The electorates blame lawmakers for not performing their oversight functions and this leads to non-implementation of budgets. How would you react to this?
The House is doing its best in carrying out their oversight functions; but even we as members, we notice some rooms for improvement in carrying out our oversight functions and we have made recommendations to the House and the House has directed all its standing committees to submit quarterly report to it on the performance of government ministries and I believe it will succeed in 2013.
Many are asking for local government financial autonomy and the state Assembly as a major tool for developing the rural committee. What is your opinion?
My Personal opinion is I’m in support of local government autonomy and financial autonomy to state Houses of Assemblies
We have seen money allocated to the state Independent Electoral Commission was in the Bauchi SSG office; many alleged that the state government will use the money to force the electoral body to favor government candidates in the forth coming local government election. How will you react to this?
The state Assembly is concerned with the forth coming local government election which we hope will be conducted this year in order to bring development to the grass root and to bring more dividends of democracy. We put adequate money that will be enough to fund the election. For your question, what we did, we saw the money about N2.8bn we looked into the relevant laws that established the electoral body and we saw that from the law, there is no connectivity between the money and the SSG’s office. So we removed the money and everything connected with the electoral body from the SSG’s office and put it to the electoral body directly. We equally transferred some heads from the state ministry of Special Duties. The issue of plants , electrification, generators we transferred anything connected to power from the ministry of Special Duties to the ministry Power and Energy in the state and we equally transferred some heads from ministry of Health to the Hospitals Management Board.
Why did the House increase the security budget with N1 billion and reduce the state budget submitted by the Governor with N1 billion?
The House increased the money on security because of its importance. Even if we devote the whole 2013 budget of N136bn to fund the security, it’s not a loss. We did that in order to ensure the sustainance of peaceful atmosphere enjoyed by the people of the state. We have also reduced the budget size by N1bn; we deduced it from the government ministries personnel cost and expenditure. We diverted the money to some capital projects. When we start our work, we have directed all the relevant ministries to submit the number of their staff and grade level and we work on that. When you look at the budget like construction of Soro Miya road, it will cost about N2.2bn and only 30 million Naira was allocated and there are construction of Dewu –Anguwan Gishiri road, it was also approved by the governor but only N39mn was appropriated , members decided to make some adjustment and fund the projects.
You have just laid the report of 2013 budget before the Assembly can you briefly summarize how your committee carried out your assignment
Actually when the Assembly received the 2013 budget submitted to us by his Excellency, the executive governor of Bauchi state, Mallam Isa Yuguda, in December last year, the House referred the documents to the committee on Appropriation for scrutiny. In the course of our assignment, we decided to invite the respective ministries and government parastatals to defend their budgets and to explain to us their performance in the 2012 financial year. We also sat and reviewed the submissions we received from relevant government agencies.
What are your findings after the submissions?
Well, actually the performance of the ministries was not impressive but we also noticed that their problems had to do with the economic meltdown and dwindling resources which affected all the states of the federation since we relied on federal allocation as our major source of revenue. Apart from that, we also felt that the House has to take some measures in other to ensure implementation of budget by relevant ministries in 2013 despite all hitches. But it’s true the performance by the ministries is very low and I believe the house will do something to help the executive to implement the 2013 budget as appropriated.