BY SUZAN EDEH
ALhaji Abdulqadir Umar Dewu is the Chairman of the committee on budget and appropriation in the Bauchi State House of Assembly. Following the submission and adoption of his report on the state government’s 2013 budget proposals he enumerated on issues concerning the budget in an interview with Vanguard. Excerpts:
What were your findings from your work on the 2013 budget of the state government?
The performance of the ministries was not impressive because they were experiencing problems of economic meltdown and dwindling of resources which affected all the states of the federation and since we rely on federal allocation as our major source of revenue, we felt that the House has to take some measures in other to ensure the implementation of the budget by relevant ministries in 2013 despite all hitches. But I must admit that the performance of the ministries is not encouraging.
During the public hearings, most of the ministries complained of non-release of funds in time which slowed down most of their activities. How do you intend to address these problems?
Actually this is one of the major areas of concern that disturbed the law makers because we are representing people in rural and urban areas. The people are yearning for development and we want to see these developmental projects in our constituencies. I believe the problem is connected with the dwindling of resources but in the year 2013, there is going to be a difference because the state government has taken adequate measures that will boost the revenue of the state internally. At this junction, the House of Assembly wants to commend the office of the SSG for maintaining a well-coordinated balance sheet that is worthy of emulations by all ministries in the state.
You don’t seem impressed with the performance of some of the ministries. Why is it corruption?
So far we do have not recorded any case of corruption but there is the problem of misplacement of priorities and the committee on budget and appropriation has put all the necessary measures to address the problem. We have made a lot of recommendations and the House will write to the executives for implementation.
Lawmakers have been blamed for not doing their oversight functions well leading to the non-implementation of the 2012 budget?
The House has been doing its best in its oversight functions but we as members have noticed some room for improvement in the implementation of such functions and we have made recommendations to the House. The House has directed all the house standing committees to submit a report every quarter on the performance of government ministries, so I believe we will succeed in 2013.
There have been allegations that funds allocated to the State Independent Electoral Commission were diverted to the SSG’s office. How true is this?
The State Assembly has been making preparations in regards to the forth coming local government election which we hope will be conducted this year in order to bring development to the grassroots.
The money that was allocated to the State Independent Electoral Commission in the state is 2.8 billion. When the House discovered that the money was diverted to the office of the SSG, it made adequate arrangements for the funding of the election by reviewing the laws of the electoral bodies and discovered that there was no connection the money had with the office of the SSG, so we ensured that the money was returned to the electoral body directly.