By Ese Awhotu with agency report
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), has written to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, demanding details of the projects allegedly inserted into the 2018 budget by the National Assembly.
According to a press release posted online by Premium Times yesterday, the Resource Centre said in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent to the Ministry by it and signed by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said it is really surprised and shocked to read that this increment and addition from the National Assembly is due to insertion of projects considered to be improperly valued and costed.
The press release said the letter reads: “HEDA wishes to express serious concern over the N14.5 billion added to the National Assembly’s budget proposal in the past 2018 budget by the parliamentarians.
“According to The Cable of June 20, 2018, it was reported that President Muhammadu Buhari accused members of the National Assembly of increasing their own budget by N14.5billion from N125billion to N139.5 billion without any discussion with the Executive.
‘In his budget signing speech, it was reported that the lawmakers also added 6,403 projects of their own to the 2018 budget proposal sent to the the parliament by the executive. He also said that the projects added by the National Assembly have not been properly designed and will be difficult to execute.”
HEDA noted further that many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
“According to the President, some of the projects affected are Mambilla power plant, second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East–west road, Bonny-Bodo road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail project whose budget were reduced by N11.5 billion.
“It was reported that the President submitted a proposal worth N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly which increased to N9.12 billion on its return to the President.’
The Resource Center said it is really surprised and shocked to read that this increment and addition from the National Assembly is due to insertion of projects considered to be improperly valued and costed.
“HEDA on the 12th April, 2018 had written the president demanding for the removal of unconstitutional allowances inserted in the 2018 Budget which includes the unconstitutional running costs, as revealed by a member of the Senate, Senator Shehu Sani.
“However, we are compelled to demand that you use your good office to furnish us detailed information of all the inserted projects by the National Assembly which led to N14.5 billion increase in the budget proposal.
“We believe that the requested information will aid investigation with a view to promoting accountability, probity, transparency and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
“By virtue of Section 4(a) of the FOI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or agency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.
“We humbly rely on the above provisions of the FOI Act and once again request your office to provide our request within the next 7 days, as failure to grant our request may compel HEDA to move against your office by reliance on the provisions of the FOI Act,” HEDA said.