By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives Committee on Commerce, has threatened the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment with zero allocation in the 2018 budget, over non appearance of the Minister, Okechukwu Enelema.
Chairman of the committee, Rep Sylvester Ogbaga said “the attitudes of ministers coming to meet committees only during budget sessions is unacceptable”, stressing that if the committee cannot get satisfactory report of the 2017 budget performance, “the affected agencies may not get any allocation, and we may stand by it”.
The committee was initially angered by the absence of both Enelema, who was said to be attending an investment summit in Agentina, and the Minister of State, Aisha Abubakar, who however showed up later.
The committee queried Aisha on why none of them had deemed it fit to attend public hearings of industry-related bills, numbering over 10, even when invitations were extended to the ministry. “Beyond the budget, let us know whether the ministry can operate without oversight of the committee”, Ogbaga said, recalling that the last encounter with the Minister was during the 2017 budget session.
The Minister of State who blamed their inability attend the hearings on late receipt of the invites, however said there was no way they could work without engaging the committee, pledging greater collaboration in the future.
Though the committee refused to deliberate on the budget of the ministry until a day that it would be convenient for Enelema to appear in person, the junior minister was allowed to present highlights of the ministry’s budget.