By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA— Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, shocked the Senate with the denial of N2 billion allegedly voted for regional housing scheme by the Ministry of Finance.
The money is part of the N64.991 billion budgetary proposals for the housing sector this year.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja when he appeared before the Committee on Land, Housing and Urban Development, led by Senator Barnabas Gemade, APC Benue North East, to defend the 2017 budget, Fashola said the Ministry of Finance planted it in the 2017 budgetary profile of the Ministry of Housing as its own initiative, tagged “Regional Housing Scheme.”
He was merely responding to the question raised by chairman of the committee, who requested to know how the ministry came about the regional housing scheme.
Fashola said: “I know as much of it as you do because it is not our initiative.”
Following the denial, Gemade ordered the committee clerk to write the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to appear before it for explanation on what she knew about the N2 billion allocation which Fashola disowned.
Fashola requested the committee to add N6 billion to the total budget estimate of the ministry as an appropriated vote for payment of the $11.9 million Nigeria was owing Shelter Afrik, a Housing Development and Financing Organisation which has membership in 44 African countries.
He added that as one who currently chairs the governing board of the organization on the slot of Nigeria, indebted nations, as Nigeria, were set to be expelled from the organization by the end of this year if they refused to pay their dues to avoid total collapse of the development organization.
In his presentation, Fashola said other votes in the N64.199 billion 2017 budgetary proposals of the Housing Ministry, aside the questionable N2 billion earmarked for regional housing scheme, were the National Housing Progromme, N41.89 billion; construction, completion and rehabilitation of federal secretariats, N5.379 billion; Zik Mausoleum and Prototype Housing Scheme, N1.325 billion and Projects and Programmes under PPP, N3.367 billion.
Others are Cadastral URD and Lands, N3 billion; URD/Special Projects, N2.140 billion; payment of outstanding local debts, N1.2 billion; and Constituency Outreach Intervention Projects, N1.69 billion etc.
The committee asked the Minister to forward a written request through the Ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning.
There was, however, disagreement between the two parties when the seemingly moribund status of the Federal Housing Authority, FHA, was raised.