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2017 Budget: Again, Fashola Carpets Lawmakers

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The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said on Monday that lawmakers had stark and worrisome knowledge about the ministries 2017 budget.

He said this in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Hakeem Bello, a copy of which was made available for our correspondent.

Fashola had early mentioned that the lawmakers injected projects that were not included in the budget such as boreholes and primary health centres and cut the budgetary allocations of bigger projects of roads and bridges.

In a swift reaction, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Abdullahi Usman and the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, accused the minister of spreading half-truths and making fallacious statements.

They said that the National Assembly had only touched the budgetary allocations on Lagos/Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge because there were concession agreements on them.

But Fashola hit back at them, saying that the lawmakers’ defense revealed they had “stark and worrisome knowledge” about the budget before altering it.

The minister argued that there was no concession agreement for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge, as well as other road projects across the country.

He said that it was absurd that the lawmakers could inject new projects into the budget after budget defence and public hearings.

To him, the action of the lawmakers amount to waste of taxpayers’ money and shows that they are more interested in sinking boreholes and primary health centres than building road infrastructure.

Recalled that the National Assembly cut the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway from N35 billion to N10 billion and that of the second Niger Bridge from N15 billion to N10 billion.

The lawmakers had argued that they did so because the funds released for the second Niger Bridge in 2016 was not spent then but returned to the ministry.

But to Fashola, budgetary allocation is not cash and that the Ministry of Finance never released any funds for the second Niger Bridge.

“So no money was released and no money was retuned, this only shows that the lawmakers have no enough knowledge of the budget as planned by the ministry before altering it,” the minister said.

Some of the projects altered by the lawmakers for boreholes and health centres to have space include the Kano-Maiduguri road, the Bodo-Bonny road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Second Niger Bridge and the long-drawn Mambilla hydropower project.

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