Budget: 1,170 projects that set Fashola against N/Assembly ••
A total of 1,170 new projects were inserted into the budget of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing by the National Assembly, an analysis of the fiscal document has revealed.
The alterations substantially affected the budget of the ministry and its agencies resulting in the current feud between the Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola and the National Assembly.
An analysis of the document showed that 390 projects were introduced into the ministry’s budget, 308 into that of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), 456 into the budget of the National Rural Electricity Agency (NREA) and 16 in that of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Also, the size of the ministry’s vote and its 13 agencies was jerked up from N564.2 billion to N586.6 billion by the federal lawmakers.
The legislators made deep cuts in the funding of projects of national significance in the Ministry’s budget.
These are the dualization of Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja from N9bn to N7.1bn; the 2nd Niger Bridge including access roads phases 2a & 2b in Anambra and Delta States from N12bn to N7bn; repairs of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway Lagos, Phase 11(section 1&2) from N7.8bn to N5.1bn and dualization of Suleja-Minna road in Niger state from N2.8bn to N2.2bn.
Under power projects, the cuts affected the 3,050MW Mambilla Hydropower project for preliminary works from N950m to N500m; the 700MW Zungeru Hydro-power project from N1.3bn to N1bn; the 10MW Katsina Wind Farm project from N904m to N804m and the “Electrify Nigeria (Light-up-Nigeria) was reduced from N652m to N302m.
The 215MW LPFO/Gas power plant was reduced from N5 billion to N4 billion.
The analysis showed that the 700MW Zungeru Hydro-power project got allocation under six different budget line items such as generation N1bn; Infrastructure, N303m; Basic Amenities 1, N303m; Basic Amenities 11- classroom blocks N438m; laterite road for the 35 resettlement site and security allowance for the military N179m.
However, the completion of power evacuation facility for 400MW Kashimbila Hydro-power plant had its allocation increased from N7.1bn proposed by the Ministry to N10bn.
In the housing sector, the lawmakers axed N28bn from the N41bn provided for the National Housing Programme.
The lawmakers provided zero allocation to an item tagged, “Nationwide Intervention fund for roads recommended by the National Assembly.” The ministry had proposed N20bn for the budget line item.
The new projects introduced into the ministry’s budget at the National Assembly include transformers, streetlights, classrooms, drainages, culverts, generators, water hand pumps, erosion control, community halls, toilets, bridges, clinics, tricycles and roads.
Funds ranging from N50m to N400m were provided for the projects that appeared on more than 150 line items.
Also, N1.8bn was approved for the construction of blocks of classrooms, hostels, clinics and skills acquisition centres in 12 Senatorial Districts and 42 Federal Constituencies, N1.2bn for the construction of roads, erosion control and urban renewal projects in 12 Senatorial Districts and 42 Federal Constituencies and another N800m was provided for the construction of motorized and solar powered boreholes in 12 senatorial Districts and 42 Federal Constituencies.
Similarly, the lawmakers approved N1.4bn in three line items for the 300KVA, 500KVA transformers and solar streetlights in 12 Senatorial Districts and 42 Federal Constituencies. The areas where the projects would be sited were not stated by the lawmakers.
The analysis showed that N1bn was approved for the construction of 3nos block of 3 classrooms in Sokoto, Lagos, Kogi, Delta, Benue, Kwara, Kebbi, Enugu, among others.
For the construction/rehabilitation of rural roads, drainages and culverts in Kwara, Enugu, Jigawa, Abia, Imo, Niger, Anambra, Yobe, Osun, Nasarawa, Lagos, Kaduna and Oyo states, N784m was approved by the lawmakers.
Another N476m was provided for the construction of motorized solar boreholes and solar streetlights for IDPs in selected locations in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
FERMA’s budget of N21.826bn was increased to N25.424bn and spread across 308 projects.
Imo has 13 projects followed by Plateau with 11, while Anambra, Kebbi and Rivers have 10 each. Others are Enugu (9); Kwara (9); Benue (8); Lagos (8); Oyo (7); Borno (7); Edo (6); Osun (6); Niger (6), while Kaduna, Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto have 5 each.
The states that have the least projects under FERMA are Katsina and Ogun, which have one each.
Our correspondents observed that 22 projects only carried the names of communities where they would be domiciled without the names of local governments and the states.
They included rehabilitations of Ore-Kere-Amuro road; Ayewa-Temidayo road; Iluke-Aiyetoro Kiri-Abugi road; Awara to Budan road; Tajimi-Igbanla road; Orehi-Robomi-Giriyan road; construction of bridge at Science School Okedayo, among others.
Some of the administrative projects included computer software acquisition; ICT hardware needs; FERMA project data management solution; integration of road reference system; communication services as well as administration and coordination.
As for NREA, the proposed budget for capital expenditure was N15.307bn with 55 projects.
However, the approved budget by the National Assembly showed that the projects skyrocketed from 55 to 497 and the amount doubled to N30.217bn.
They are for rehabilitation/construction/completion of rural electrification projects states.
The analyzed budget documents indicated further that the sum of N40.2bn was proposed to cover 93 projects under capital vote at the TRCN.
However, the approved budget showed that 16 additional projects were included, while the allocation for capital rose to N42.385bn.
Some of the new projects included in the TCN’s budget are construction of Damaturu-Gashua 132KV DC transmission line; 2X60MVA 132/33KV substation at Okeagba, Ondo State and line bay at Obajana; 1X60MVA additional transformer at Ukpilla substation and line bay extension; 132KVA substation at Owerri-Aboh Mbaise; 2X60MVA substation at Dutsinma, Katsina Stateand Yelwa-Yauri 2X30/40MVA S/S and 100KM of 33KV line.
Others are complete rehabilitation of Aja 330KV gas insulated switch-gear; supply of 5 units of 330KV gas circuit breakers; supply of 10 units of 132KV gas circuit breakers; supply of 50 units of 330KV isolators and construction of 33KV line to evacuate power to Wudil 130MVA, 132/33KV substation to Gaya, Ajingi, Garko, Sumaila, Albasu, Takai,Wudil Water Works and Police Academy, among others.
The altercations between the two sides began when Fashola accused the National Assembly of introducing frivolous projects into the budget of his ministry.
However, justifying their actions, the spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said they worked to ensure equity across the country on all new and outstanding projects.
Reacting, Fashola through a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Hakeem Bello, said he was worried that the National Assembly spokespersons failed to address the fundamental points about development-hindering whimsical cuts in the allocations to several vital projects under the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing as well as other ministries.
“In any event, allegations of half truth are only a flawed response to the constitutional and developmental issues that have plagued Nigeria from 1999 about how to budget for the critical infrastructure in Nigeria. It shows the conflict between the Executive that wants to build big Federal Highways; Bridges ; Power Plants; Rail; and Dams on one hand and Parliament that wants to do small things like bore holes , health centres , street lights and supplying grinding machines.
“As long as budgets planned to deliver life changing infrastructure are cut into small pieces, Nigeria will continue to have small projects that are not life changing, and big projects that have not been completed in 17 years. If a project would cost N15 billion and the contractor gets only a fraction of that, then things won’t move. Success should be defined by how many projects an administration is able to complete or set on the path of irreversible completion and not how many poorly funded contracts are awarded,” he said.