By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Minister for Transportation, Mr Rotimi Ameschi and his team, yesterday, defended the ministry’s budget proposals for 2018, before the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, Chaired by Senator Gbenga Ashafa and Aminu Isa.
In his remarks, Ashafa, while urging the minister and his team to deliver President Muhamadu Buhari’s campaign promises to Nigerian’s through the maximum implementation of the 2018 budget, was interjected by the Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Land Transport, Adesegun Adekoya, who raised a point of order, requesting that the minister be placed on oath.
Adesegun stated that he wanted to be sure that the facts and figures being released by the minister were not fictitious as had occurred during the budget defence exercise of the previous year.
The development, immediately elicited an eruption of murmurs from those present at the venue of the session.
His words “Mr. Chairman sir, Point of Order, I want to request that the Honourable Minister be placed on oath sir. I need to be sure that the figures he is giving us today are the genuine figures, not like what transpired last year when we were told that counterpart funding for Lagos – Ibadan is N60 Billion Naira and the Ministry went on to receive N75Billion for the same project, without the necessary appropriation for the excess N15 Billion.”
After a hot exchange between the Minister and Adesegun, It took the timely intervention of Ashafa and Ali Wakili who pointed that it was against parliamentary procedure to place anybody on oath except during an investigative hearing, to restore relative calm in the session.
In his response, Ameachi immediately stated :“I don’t have any money or any other thing working for me except my name. Every position I have gotten to in life has been based on my integrity and so I would not allow anybody to impuge on my reputation.”
He thereafter, explained that immediately the Ministry was notified that they had not yet received appropriation for the extra N12 billion Naira required for counterpart funding of the Lagos to Ibadan segment of the Lagos-Kano Railway Modernisation Project, he notified the Ministry of Finance to withhold disbursement of the sum till the 2017 Appropriation was passed into law