By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives yesterday expressed shock over the high and repeated budget of the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO).
The agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology had grown from N20 million in 2015 to over N2.5 billion in 2021 which the House found inappropriate.
SHESTCO was a guest to the House ad-hoc committee probing capital projects executed and funds repeated every year in the Appropriation Act by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) since 2015.
A copy of the agency’s submission to the committee had revealed that it budgeted the following sums: N20m, N342.1m, N501.1m, N670.2m, N730.6m and N2.5b for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 fiscal years.
However, releases made to the agency for the years under review were N10m, N205.5m, N250.6m, N313m, N248.7m and N730.6m for 2015 to 2020.
The document also showed that over N66 million had been released so far for the 2021 fiscal year.
The submission also showed the agency utilized 100 per cent of the funds released to them except for 2020 where it spent N730, 381, 598.67 out of the N730, 589, 076 it received.
Speaking at the hearing, the chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Abubakar Makki Yalleman, accused the agency of repeating executed and unexecuted projects in their budgets.
He, therefore, asked the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Professor Paul Onyenekwe to make available details of their expenditures to the committee on next appearance next week Tuesday.
“So going by your record you submitted to us, in 2015, you were doing appropriation of N20 million. N10 million was given to you. N10 million was released to you and you utilized it. To my surprise, you demanded three hundred and forty-something million and two hundred and something million was released to you again.
“This is why Nigeria is leaking. See where the leakages are. If in 2015 you demand N20m and in 2016 you demand over N200 million and if you remember that there is a medium-term sector strategy, how can you justify your request?
“You even had the power to request over N2b in 2021. This is surprising and the whole releases are there. Virtually 100 per cent release, while some other agencies are crying even under your ministry. See where the money is going. Please we should try and help Nigerians. When you are given a fund, you utilize it.
“You are repeating projects and that is the purpose of this committee to fish out agencies like you. Nigeria cannot continue with this. This government has good intentions for the citizens of this country, but you cannot be lumping money into an agency while other sectors are sinking. Please we should try and help this government,” Yalleman said.
In his response, Onyenekwe said that most of the items were constituency projects.
“My belief is that like when we look at last year’s budget, yes we are seeing over 700 million there, but when you look at it critically, you will discover that most of that was all constituency projects. The same thing is applicable in 2021. Out of this N2.5 billion, ours is about N600 million. These are constituency projects,” he said.
Vanguard News Nigeria