House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, yesterday, uncovered N180 million double allocation to Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, in the 2016 budget.
The committee also queried the agency for earning dollars and remitting in naira to the Federal Government.
It was discovered during budget defence that the agency made double capital allocations to the tune of N180 million.
The committee said while the agency was generating revenues in dollars, it was remitting to government in naira, without actually disclosing how much of the dollar it earned and at what exchange rate it remitted to government.
A member of the committee, Magaji Dau-Aliyu, had raised the question as to why the agency would propose a capital allocation of N85 million in Federal Government budget and then N95 million in Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, under the same sub-head in the 2016 budget.
Responding on behalf of the agency, Director of Finance and Admin, Rueben Jiya said: “If we make allocation for capital in Federal Government budget and it doesn’t come, the double provision in IGR would have taken care of it without letting it suffer.”
Asked what happens when the Federal Government approves and releases the sum allocated, he said there would be reconciliation.
However, how such reconciliation is done and what happens to the surplus, the agency couldn’t explain.
The committee therefore insisted that the projects must be fully situated, costed and sent back with appropriate figures assigned to the Federal Government budget with the remainder taken to IGR for funding, otherwise, the proposal would be rejected.
Chairman of the Committee, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, told the agency that the committee would not entertain a situation where projects initiated and started by the past administration would be discontinued and abandoned.
She also queried the agency’s decision to make provision for new projects in 2016 when there were still ongoing and uncompleted projects needing attention.
She said the committee desired a functional and efficient aviation sector that would be the envy of all around the world. As to what denomination the agency was paid it’s IGR, Director General, Dr. Anthony Anofurum, said some part of the payment were made in naira while others were in dollars. Also asked why all the submissions made were in naira, Jiya said it was converted at the official rate.
When the lawmakers further asked how much, he said: “There are different official exchange rates.”
This made the committee to demand the rate at which the dollars were exchanged and what the difference was, given insinuations that agencies hid their dollar revenues from government.
Consequently, the agency asked for time to do the reconciliation, as the director general and his team were directed to effect the necessary corrections and return the document by Friday.
In another development, members of the Senate Committee on Works yesterday expressed shock, following revelation by Works, Power and Housing Minister, Babatunde Fashola, that the ministry spent N4 billion to mobilise 11contractors to site last year without an inch of road construction done.
Fashola stated that while some of the contractors received mobilisation sums of N500 million, one in particular received as much as N1billion.
The minister made the revelation when he appeared before the Senate committee to explain the performance of the 2015 budget of the ministry, as well as to defend the 2016 appropriation.
Reacting to the revelations, chairman of committee, Kabir Gaya, insisted that the minister must provide explanations as to why the contractors were allowed to escape with the said mobilisation sums.
Gaya also directed the minister to feed the committee with details of the contracts awarded in 2015 and their status at a later date.
Gaya said: “Eleven contractors have collected mobilisation fees and there is zero implementation. Some collected N500 million, some collected less than that based on records available before us and one of the contractors collected N1billion.
“For instance in the case of dualisation of Otukpo township road, N1billion was paid to the contractors.
“Minister, you need to check that and give us details in the next meeting. There is no point giving a contractor mobilisation fee when he cannot perform.”
Responding, Fashola said not all the contractors who were mobilised had zero performance.
He said: “In my document, contract performance is not zero. It is important to take the assessment that the committee has made on mobilisation into context. In my document, contract performance is not zero.
“My understanding here is that going by the entire contract sum of N9.9 billion, by law, the contractors should get at least 15 per cent to move to site.
“The part where we have zero performance in the document; if a contractor was supposed to get N1.5 billion and he got N500 million, he cannot be mobilised. We will check and get back to you.”
Fashola said that though it was not in his nature to complain about taking responsibilities for something that did not happen under his watch, as a minister of less than 100 days in office, he nonetheless dissociated himself from the N4 billion used for the mobilisation of the 11 contracts.
He said: “Things have been done in a manner that we have to just take them as we met them for the country to move forward.”
On the 2016 budget proposal, the lawmakers asked the minister to rejig the list of roads he presented to them for construction this year with the N268 billion budgeted, such as to reflect all the zones of the country.
The lawmakers noted that aside from the ones listed, there were some others, that were vital for urgent construction that were not in the list but which they said, would be injected into it when drafting the final document.
“I appreciate your effort and concern, Hon. Minister, but we have to know what you are spending every year on the road and how to generate funds and see how we can achieve success,” the chairman said.
Roads listed for construction under the N268 billion budget are Lagos -Ibadan (N50 billion), Abuja- Lokoja (N10 billion), Kano- Maiduguri (N16 billion), Ilorin/Jebba/ Mokwa (N6 billion), and concession of 2nd Niger Bridge (N17 billion).