By Levinus Nwabughiogu
House of Representatives, yesterday, demanded an explanation from the Federal Fire Service over N60 million increase in recurrent expenditure for the 2019 budget.
The House noted that the service proposed N473.9 million for the recurrent cost in a budget proposal of N9.4 billion for the 2019 fiscal year.
In 2018, N413.5 million was appropriated for recurrent expenditure while N343.5 million was released and the service utilised all the N343.5m released.
At a budget defence organised by House Committee on Interior, members queried the acting Controller-General, CG, Federal Fire Service, Mr Liman Ibrahim, on the rationale for the increase.
A member of the committee, Shehu Musa (APC-Bauchi) said: “I have a question which is on page 18 of the budget document where you have your recurrent cost for 2019.
“In the recurrent expenditure, I noticed that it jerked from N413 billion as at 2018 to N473 billion as of 2019, which means there is a significant increase of N60 million.
“So I want to know whether the CG has a plan of widening his scope by establishing more stations, more outfits, having more responsibilities because this is what it implies. I really want to know what you want to do with the money?”
Also speaking, Linda Chuba-Ikpeazu (PDP-Anambra) expressed disappointment that Onitsha, a city in Anambra State, had no fire fighting station. She noted that the state relied on help from Asaba, Delta State during emergencies.
Service to acquire 44 new trucks
Responding, the acting CG said the increase in the budget was to enable them to acquire 44 fire fighting trucks.
He noted: “And by the time they arrive in the country, we are going to open additional fire stations in the zones. Currently, we have stations in six zones and we want to increase the number to 12 zones.
“So with more stations, we need additional hands. So those are the three reasons for the increase. We are at the zones to complement the efforts of the state fire services. I am sure Onitsha falls under Anambra.
“We gave Anambra zonal office and they abandoned us and we have to move to Enugu. So, currently, our zonal office is in Enugu. Such international market is supposed to have what we called fire post and fire trucks. If it is not supplied by the state government, the market association should buy.”