By PETER EGWUATU
The Chairman, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), Dr. Christopher Kolade, weekend, debunked claims that its committee has spent N2.2 billion on secretariat services in its 10 months of operation as reported by some media, saying it was not true.
He also disclosed that out of the N180 billion accrued from the subsidy, only 42 per cent goes to the federal government, while 54 per cent goes to the states and local governments.
The SURE-P chairman disclosed this during an interactive session with editors in both print and electronic media, saying the committee has only spend N1 billion. So where is the N2.2 billion coming from. We did not receive any money from the government to carry out our responsibility until July, 2012. The money from the subsidy does not come to the committee directly but are lodged with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). So before we withdraw any money for any particular project the budget office must approve of it.” “Government has determined the areas it wanted to intervene before we came on board. Our own responsibility is to ensure that money allocated for any project is used where it was mapped out for. We did not determine what project we are carrying out. Our role is to make sure we get value for the money spent. It is the federal government that has responsibility to determine what to spend the money for. We want to do a job that has quality. The National Assembly approved all the projects and money allocated for them.
Before we took the job, we agreed among ourselves as a committee that whatever we are going to do we should do it with probity, accountability and transparency. That has been my words any where I work. I brought in my integrity, experience and God to serve this country, none of my committee member is out of job, they are people who are doing well financially and otherwise in their various fields. So the National Assembly don’t just come on people and rubbish them simply because they come to serve their country.”
When asked whether he will continue to serve the country, he said, “Of course I don’t have any other country to contribute my quota. I will, no matter the pressure , provided the committee is doing things that will benefit the ordinary Nigerians. If the National Assembly attack me, I will defend myself with every fact and wont be intimidated. Nobody has monopoly of attack, but because of the wisdom I have gathered over the years I will continue to do the job with wisdom.
I will defend myself whenever am attacked.”
While commenting on the projects the committee has responsibility to intervene, he said, “There are six areas we are supposed to intervene. These are : Railways, Mass transit, Road and Bridges, Community Services, Women and Youth Empowerment and Vocational training and Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA ). So we have started to execute some of those projects and no contractors can say we owe him or her for the project they have completed for more than two to three weeks. Once a project is satisfied okay by our team, we apply for their money and get it out from the CBN. So it is a matter of time the benefit of all these things we are doing will begin to manifest.”
However, Kolade recalled how it took him time to accept the national assignment, saying, It was premised on national interest and that the SURE-P Board would serve with probity, accountability, and transparency.”