…slash N350 million budget for horses
By Emmanuel Aziken
The Senate today (Wednesday) approved cut N6.2 billion out of funds meant for education and health in the Federal Capital Territory towards funding the N25 billion expansion work on two major roads in the federal capital.
The approval was, however, trailed by criticism from several Senators who faulted the decision to cut education and health funds for the airport road and Kubwa road expressway expansion projects.
The Senate, nevertheless, removed N250 million from the N350 million provided for the purchase of horses and stables in the 2009 budget of the FCT for the road construction project.
The report of the Senate committee on Appropriation recommending the virement of N25.9 billion from the 2009 FCT budget was presented by Senator Iyiola Omisore chairman of the Senate committee on Appropriation.
In recommending the virement proposal, Senator Omisore said it â€œwould reduce the existing pressure on the existing facilities in the main city.â€™â€™
Out of the N25.7 billion requested, the executive had requested that N4.18 billion be cut from the education budget of the FCT for the year and another N2.1 billion from the health budget be slashed to meet the funding needs of the two road projects.
Besides, N7.5 billion is to be cut from provisions for Satellite towns infrastructure N7.5 and another N4.37 billion is to be excised from the proposals set aside for Engineering services.
Once Senator Omisore presented his report yesterday, Senator Ahmad Lawan (ANPP, Yobe North) immediately flayed the decision to shave the education and health budget to supplement the road contract.
â€œWe cannot wait until 2010 before we treat our citizens and we cannot afford to keep our children or wards illiterate and that they should not go to school until 2010,â€™â€™ he said noting that cutting funds meant for education and health would militate against human development.
Supporting him, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) (PDP, Cross River Central) said:
â€œWe cannot take money from education and health to build roads. It is only living human beings that can use roads.â€™â€™
Also speaking against the proposal, Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) said that Nigerians must be alive for them to ply the roads being constructed. He also raised questions on the value of the road project which according to him was left hanging.
In his own remarks, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw (PDP, Cross River South) expressed reservations on why funds earmarked for entrepreneurial development were cut in favour of a road contract.
But supporting the committeeâ€™s recommendation, Senator Omisore said the cuts were done because of the realization that the funds meant for education and health could not be exhausted in 2009. Besides, he said that funds for the sectors could be supplemented if necessary through a supplementary budget.
Following the contributions and upon a voice vote, the Senate resolved to adopt the report.