The Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mine, Steel Development and Metallurgy on Monday accused President Muhammadu Buhari led administration of being clearly out of tune with realities on ground in the country.
A visibly angry Senate Committee said that the federal government demonstrated by its “meagre budgetary allocation” to the sector was at a loss as to what it needs to properly diversify the country’s economy.
Chairman of the Committee and former Nasarawa State governor, Tanko Al-Makura (APC Nasarawa South), lambasted the budget by the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, insisting that “the yearly ritual called budget is garbage in, garbage out, which will not take the country to anywhere as far as required diversification is concerned.
The type of budgeting process being carried out in this country over the years is stereotypic one. It is wrong for the budget to be conceptualized in the ministry, enveloped and forward to the National Assembly for approval “.
The Senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi tolled Al-Makura’s position when he spoke to journalists on the sideline of the committee’s interface with ministry officials that the N23.4billion 2022 budget estimates were “grossly inadequate and a clear indication that the federal government was not in tune with the realities on ground.”
Presenting the budget before the Committee of the Upper Chamber earlier, the Minister of State (Mines and Steel), Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, gave a breakdown of the figure, noting that out of the N23.4billion budget profile for the Ministry in 2022, N10billion is for personnel cost, N1.47billion for overhead cost and N11billion for capital Projects.
However, Senator Adeyemi queried “how on Earth would a Minister propose N82billion for procurement of Mosquitoes net and a sector as important as the Solid Minerals, given N10 or N11billion?” he fumed.
“Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex that can give jobs to about 50, 000 Nigerians is lying fallow in a country with an army of unemployed youths who can stage Revolution at any time.
“Nigeria is bleeding from this envelope form of budgeting riddled with repetition of line items and allocations on yearly basis.
“Government may be building infrastructure but building infrastructure is not as good as creating wealth through diversification of the economy.
“The best way of doing this is to remove whatever bottleneck hindering continuation of work on Ajaokuta Steel complex and get it completed “, he said
But the Minister in his response said envelope budgeting was not the creation of the ministry as it affects other government agencies.
“My appeal to you distinguished Senators on the current model of budgeting is for the National Assembly to seek the attention of the President.
“Operating with an envelope as far as yearly budget is concerned, doesn’t make one think out of the box. It makes one looks stupid.
” We have the passion to drive the development of the country and transform into reality, the Vision of Mr President like other patriotic Nigerians in one public Office or the other,’ he said.
He added that even with the envelope budgeting and lean resources, the Ministry has changed the narrative of low internally generated revenue to very appreciable figures now.
“In recent past, it used to be N2billion on yearly basis but has increased to N6.2billion now with a target of hitting N10billion by the end of the year “, he said.
However, as a result of the short notice given to the Ministry for the budget presentation, the Committee later reschedule Monday next week for detailed Defence of 2021 budget implementation and presentation of 2022 budget estimates respectively.