By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation yesterday summoned the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and his aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika to appear before it today to provide details on budget performance of the aviation ministry.
The lawmakers equally demanded for explanations on N974m budgeted for fencing and another N49m for water treatment facility, asking if the school located in Zaria is fencing the entire Kaduna state or spending to establish a water bottling company with the amount of money voted and spent on water treatment plant.
The resolution of the House Committee followed the failure of chief executives of 4 agencies to honour invitation of the panel to defend budget performances of the last 18 months.
At the hearing, the directors general of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN),Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), as well at the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), were all absent – save their representatives from whom the lawmakers refused to take presentation.
While the FAAN DG was said to have a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Transport in town, even though the minister, Mr. Amaechi was at the time meeting with the House committee on Land Transportation that of the NCAA was said to have travelled outside the country on medical leave, with his acting head said to be in Lagos.
The Commissioner of the AIB on the other hand was said to have also travelled, but the committee head, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha countered the official, saying that she reliably gathered that “the man is in Nigeria and attending to some foreigners in his office”.
“My brother, I take exceptions to the fact that the AIB Commissioner is in Nigeria and he’s attending to foreigners and has prioritized that meeting over and above a scheduled session with this committee, she said, stressing the toll lack of accountability is taking on budget performance.
“Now we have this attitude that leads to lack of accountability in budget implementation, because as we speak, we don’t know how much has been released to them, how much has been spent and what it was spent to achieve.
“And in less than two days from now, they will tell us to accept their 2019 budget proposal and approve same, we can’t take that from anybody henceforth.
“If we don’t appropriate you can’t spend, and if you spend without our appropriation you go to jail. The national assembly has been slighted to the barest minimum and the ministries and agencies are doing same.
“The minister’s own is even worst because you always finds reasons not to honour our invitation and we are done condoning that.
“Whoever failed to defend their 2018 budget performance will not get a budget in 2019 and we will make sure that those who deliberately avoid our oversight will have no appropriation for next year.
“You can’t keep spending public funds as you want without accountability to the people whose money you’re spending, and as representatives of the people, we are here to tell you that is completely unacceptable”, the panel head added.
The only agency attended to and allowed to present it budget appraisal was the Nigerian Civil Aviation Technology (NCAT) which was led by the training manager of the school, Captain Hassan Abdulrahman Jimoh, who was asked to update his documents regarding a $1m simulator equipment procurement contract and report back to the committee by 10 am for further engagement by 2pm on Thursday.