Reps panel stops NPC budget defence over NI.9b bill for summits in 2021
• Asks commission, NIMC to return with detailed performance reports
• Senate threatens COREN with zero allocation
Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) Nasir Kwarra, yesterday, stunned the House of Representatives Committee on Census when he told the panel that the agency spent N 1.9 billion on summits in 2021. It also spent N118 million to design website, over N5 billion for mock census and N23 million for welfare package with no evidence of beneficiaries.
He spoke during a budget defence session, where the Director of Census, Evelyn Olanipekun, said of the N1.9 billion, over N129 million was expended on a one-day event, organised at the Presidential Villa, while N1.2 billion was voted for summits in the 36 states, even with some yet to hold.
A Federal Commissioner, Bala Banye, who represented the chairman, had claimed submitting a detailed report to the committee on how the funds were spent, stating he could not respond to some questions verbally.
The committee, therefore, rejected the Commission’s 2022 budget performance, asking the organisation to return on a later date with a better report on how the funds were expended.
BUT the Director General of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, who appeared before the panel, requested N13 billion as personnel cost in the 2023 budgetary proposal.
The personnel budget in 2022, according to the DG, was N5.8 billion. The committee thus requested a detailed report of NIMC’s budget performance next Tuesday before consideration of the request.
IN a similar vein, the Senate Committee on Works has threatened to award zero allocation to Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) in the 2023 fiscal year
The Senator Adamu Aliero-led panel also threatened to remove the professional body from benefiting from the yearly federal budget as members perceived the organisation as conduit pipe through which government money is being siphoned.
Trouble began when COREN Registrar, Ademola Bello, could not convincingly defend spending of the 2022 budget and list achievements of the agency in the year under review.
He had told the committee that his organisation was tackling menace of incessant building collapse across the country, with investigations into collapsed buildings, including the ill-fated 21-storey building in Lekki, Lagos State, indicting some COREN members.
He had added that the names of those indicted for professional misconduct will soon be forwarded to the Inspector General of Police for prosecution.
Bello went on to say COREN was allocated N2.4 billion for 2022 fiscal year, N1.2 billion of the sum spent to organise its yearly conference.
He also told the committee members that the personnel cost in 2023 budget was increased by N200 million, as the organisation was planning to have offices in all 36 states of the federation.
When asked by the committee chairman, Aliero, how much COREN remitted to the Federation Account, Bello’s answer was N45 million. Unimpressed, the lawmakers directed him to produce evidence of remittance and other relevant documents.
However, a member of the committee, Senator George Sekibo, said there was no justification to keep COREN as beneficiary of federal budget, as it could stand alone as a professional body like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and others.