BY HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
…votes N4bn for Jonathan’s wife mission building, Sambo’s guest house to gulp N150m
ABUJA—The Federal Capital Territory has proposed to spend N5 billion this year to rehabilitate prostitutes and destitutes who loiter the streets of Abuja.
In the FCT 2013 budget, the Federal Capital Territory Administration also planned to spend N4 billion for the construction of the First Lady’s Mission Building which senators described not only as scandalous but an endorsement of illegality, while Vice President Namadi Sambo’s Guest House in Asokoro, Abuja will be renovated with N150 million by the administration of Senator Bala Mohammed.
Also, N7.5 billion is budgeted for the construction of two city gates. Out of the N5.7 billion earmarked for procurement of equipment and other essentials, N2.9 billion will be spent to sweep and provide sanitation for the city.
The FCTA as part of moves to remove prostitutes and destitute from the streets of the Federal Capital City, FCC, has set up two training centres in Bwari Area Council and Lugbe in Anuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC.
The Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, will be in charge of removing the prostitutes and destitutes from the streets while their rehabilitation will be handled by Social Development Secretariat.
According to a source from the FCTA, the prostitutes when arrested, will be taken to Lugbe where they will be engaged in vocational training in hairdressing, making of yoghurt, computer training, among others for a minimum period of three months. The programme which commenced last year has already graduated over 1,000 of such persons.
In his lead debate yesterday, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma- Egba who presented the FCT Statutory Appropriation Bill, 2013 said the total Statutory budget stands at N253,199,752,409, with N48,034,818,410 voted for Personnel costs; N49,504,534,358 for Overhead Costs and the balance of N155,660, 399,641 is for Capital Projects for the service of the Federal Capital Territory commencing from January 1, and ending on December 31, 2013.
According to Senator Ndoma-Egba, another N7.5 billion will be spent in 2013 by the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, AMMC, where the Departments of Development Control, Parks and Recreation, Facility Management and Urban Affairs belong.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba said: “The sum of N4 billion is proposed for the construction of First Lady Mission Building. Also, the sum of N150 million is set aside for the renovation of Vice President’s Guest House in Asokoro.
“The sum of N50.5 billion is proposed for the development of transport sector. Out of this amount, there is a Chinese loan of N44.5 billion for the construction of Abuja 60.37 standard gauge rail track with ancillary facilities.
“The secretariat is saddled with the responsibility of promoting social activities like sports, arts and culture, tourism, empowerment programmes, rehabilitate prostitutes and destitute, etc in the territory. In 2013, the total sum of N5 billion is earmarked to address some of the social menace within the FCT.
“The sum of N30 billion is earmarked for the provision of infrastructure and services in the education sector in year 2013. This will also cater for the expansion and rehabilitation of Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and Vocational Schools, as well as to provide teaching aid materials. This will improve the quality and standard of education in FCT.
“The sum of N24 billion is proposed for the provision of infrastructural facilities and to complete the on-going projects. N23 billion is for the completion of on-going projects while N470 million is for new projects.”
Senators fault budget, say it’s scandalous
Meanwhile, Senators in their contributions to the budget however faulted some of the provisions, describing the proposed vote of N4 billion in the FCT budget of N253, 199, 752, 409 for First Lady Mission Building as not only scandalous, but an endorsement of illegality against the backdrop that the office does not exist in the 1999 Constitution. They argued that public funds must not be used on a private project of such.
In his remarks, Senate President noted that the government was not getting the priorities right in the budget as most important things were not paid attention to, even as he urged Senators to ensure that an effective oversight was carried out.
Earlier in his contribution, Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi, PDP, Bauchi Central while leading a strong opposition against the budget said, “N150 million is too much for the renovation of the Vice President’s guest house in Asokoro. How much is the building that it will now gulp N150 million for renovation?”
Also in his contribution, Vice chairman, Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Babajide Omoworare, ACN, Osun East who also kicked against the expenditure, said: “I’m worried about the provision of bogus figures, there’s a lot of disconnect. This budget hasn’t shown the reality of what’s happening in and around Abuja. Provision of N4 billion for building a mission office for the First Lady is scandalous.
“The Women Development Centre is there for the First Lady to do anything she wants to do and I’m not aware that there’s a First Ladies Mission office in the United States of America from where we copied the Presidential system of government. There is no such building in South Africa and even Ghana that is our next door neighbour.
“N4 billion can be used for a lot of other things. We have not set our priorities right. I’m of the view that the committee should look into this.
“Again, I remember that in this chamber last year, we voted N1 billion only for new federal universities yet we are being asked to appropriate N4 billion for an office that’s alien to the Constitution.”
Also in his remark, Vice chairman, Committee on Establishment and Public Service Committee, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, ACN, Ekiti Central, who was also not happy with some proposals of the FCT Budget, said: “I’m worried and I hope that those of us who are leaders in this country do not take the youths for granted. How can we vote N4 billion for the office of the First Lady? I just pray and hope that this doesn’t get to the public because if it does, we are in trouble.
“How can you appropriate money for an office that’s not known to the Constitution?”
Speaking further, Senate President Mark urged the Senator Bala Mohammed-led administration to set its priorities in the budget right, rather than start projects that would not be 90 per cent completed at the end of every fiscal year.
He said: “You’ve all made very valid contributions. I think the main problem with the budget is getting our priorities right. Some issues have come to the forefront that shouldn’t come to the forefront. I’m wary of completing some projects haphazard.”