2018 Budget: NASS Replies Buhari

President Buhari while signing the 2018 Budget into law

To give the exact detail of the projects where we made deductions, it should be noted that the counterpart funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/Ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Road and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project, was reduced by only N3,956,400,290 – which represents only 1.78 % of the total N222,569,335,924 submitted by President Buhari. This left these projects with N218,612,935,634 which cannot negatively affect their implementation.
This obviously contradicts the claim that these projects lost “an aggregate of N11.5 billion”.

Specifically:
A. The counterpart Funding for 3050mw Mambilla Hydropower Project was reduced from N8.5billion to N8.2billion (a reduction of N300million);
B. The construction of the Second Niger bridge including access roads phases 2a and 2b in Anambra and Delta states and other projects in the South East were reduced from N10billion to N9.1billion (a reduction of N900million);
C. The construction of Bodo-Bonny road with a bridge across the Opobo channel in Rivers State was reduced from N10billion to N8.7billion (a reduction of N1.3billion);
D. The funding for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced from N20billion to N18billion (a reduction of N2billion), which would not significantly affect the construction of the road in one appropriations cycle;
E. The Railway Projects (Counterpart Funds):
1. Lagos-Kano (ongoing)
2. Calabar-Lagos (Ongoing)
3. Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Aladja (Warri) (Ongoing)
4. Port Harcourt- Maiduguri (New)
5. Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic (New)
6. Abuja-Itakpe and Aladja (Warri)-Warri Port and Refinery including Warri new Harbour (New)
7. Bonny deep Sea Port & Port Harcourt of N162,284,335,924 was retained by the National Assembly as presented by Mr. President; and
F. The @nassnigeria increased the aggregate funding for the East-West Road from N11,285,000,000 to N12,085,000,000 because we realized the strategic importance of the road to the entire oil producing areas of our country & the fact that the road project has lingered for too long.

Addressing the issue of the Second Niger Bridge project, apart from early works, as of today, there is no existing contract for the Second Niger Bridge in spite of frequent requests from the National Assembly. The N900million reduced from the N10billion proposed by the Executive was deployed to fund ancillary roads that connect to the Bridge. It should again be noted that the N12.5billion and the N7.5billion appropriated for the Second Niger Bridge in the 2016 and 2017 budget by the National Assembly were never utilized for the project. We also need to call the attention of the public to the fact that the National Assembly allocated an additional N2billion to the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway project. This was more than the Executive proposed.

As part of the implementation of the 2017 budget, the contracts for 15 roads were awarded by the Federal Executive Council with no budgetary provisions. Realizing the importance of these projects, the National Assembly decided to spread the N3.9billion saved from the earlier mentioned projects funding to facilitate the take-off of these projects that include: the rehabilitation of Ikorodu-Shagamu road in Lagos State; the rehabilitation of 9th Mile-Orakam to Benue Border; and the general maintenance of Pankshin – Ballang – Nyelleng – Sararele – Gindiri road in Plateau State, etc. These are the projects purported to be “project inclusions without conceptualization.” On these projects, the National Assembly needs to be commended by Mr. President for helping to support the take-off of these awarded but unfunded projects.

Furthermore, it was stated that the budget of the FCT was cut by N 7.5 billion. This is true. The legislators stand by this decision because, through its oversight of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the National Assembly discovered that in the 2016 and 2017 budget cycle, there was a severe non-performance of the budgetary allocations to the FCT. During the two years in question, over 50% of the funds that were allocated and released to the FCT were not utilized. These funds were ultimately returned to the treasury. Hence, in order to ensure that scarce resources were allocated in accordance to ‘needs over wants’, funding for the FCT which has historically been under-utilised were allocated to other MDAs that have demonstrated the capacity to implement their allocation for the development of the nation and its people. It was part of the allocation that we spread over the roads for which contracts were awarded with no budgetary allocation.

On the provisions for strategic interventions in the health sector which were said to be cut by an aggregate of N7.45billion, it is on record that for the first time since the National Health Act was enacted in 2014, the National Assembly made provision of an additional N55billion for funding primary healthcare through the Basic Primary Healthcare Fund which will be sourced from 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Thus, contrary to the claim that the health sector suffered any budgetary cuts, we actually provided more funds that will make access to health services possible for over 180 million Nigerians.
The presence of this provision for primary healthcare will help us to eliminate the prevalence of maternal, infant and child mortality as well as create a healthier population. With this increased funding, we will be able to ensure that all Nigerian children get the necessary immunization that keeps various diseases away from them and ensure that mothers are well-catered for during childbirth.

On the issue of the 104 Unity Schools across the nation and the claim that N3billion was cut from their funding, Nigerians need to know that after careful consultation by the committees of the National Assembly with stakeholders in the sector, the National Assembly actually provided an additional N3.7billion more for meal subsidies in these 104 Unity Schools.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira and that this will further delay the completion of this critical project.
However, for the avoidance of doubt, it is necessary to again clarify that during the budget defense and oversight processes, the National Assembly discovered that out of the N2billion contract for the Enugu Terminal Building, N1.7billion had already been paid to the contractor, and what is left to complete this project is just N300million. Hence, the National Assembly approved N500million for the project — which is even N200million more than was required.

In the case of statutory transfers where the increase in the National Assembly’s budget was isolated, it is important to note that the increase in the oil price benchmark from the projected $45 to the actual price of $51 generated additional N523.65 billion for the FG.26. Thus, based on requests from the Executive as represented by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the additional revenues were allocated among the three arms of government as follows:
a. The Executive’s proposal for the National Judicial Council was N100billion, however, the National Assembly appropriated N110billion which represents N10 billion increase;
b. The Executive’s proposal for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was N71,195,023,529, however the National Assembly appropriated N81,882,555,891 — which represents a N10,687,532,363 increase;
c. An additional N33,981,437,188 was also appropriated for the outstanding liabilities to the NDDC by the Federal Government to enable the commission settle some of its contractors that were owed over N1 trillion;
d. The National Assembly received an additional N14.5billion in funding;
e. In order to ensure that they are able to meet their mandate, the National Assembly increased the Public Complaint’s Commission’s budget from the N4,200,000,000 proposed by the President to N7,480,000,000 — which represents a N3,280,000,000 increase; and
f. Lastly, the National Human Rights Commission’s budget was increased from N1.5billion to N3,013,745,000, which represents a N1,513,745,000 increase. And there are correspondences addressed to the leadership of the National Assembly from the Executive’s Ministry of Budget making requests on how to spread the increment arising from the Benchmark differentials.

We therefore want to urge all Executive appointees to ensure that they brief Mr. President with the truth and facts of their engagement, to promote healthy and harmonious relationships between the Executive and the Legislature.

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