November 5, 2020

Reps furious over zero funding for ZIPs in SDGs’ 2020 budget


By Tordue Salem, Abuja

The House of Representatives waa miffed on Thursday, over the non-implementation of Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs) in the 2020 budget by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) office.

The lawmakers during the 2021 budget defence session by the House Committee on SDGs, queried the omission of Zonal Intervention Projects.

Members queried Senior Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on SDGs, Mrs Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, for seeming comfort, with leaving out projects that directly affect lawmakers.

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The legislators also queried the delay in the release of funds to take care of the capital Special Intervention Projects in their zones.

However, the President’s aide explained that it was none of her faults, as she could spend only what is released to her office.

In a quick intervention to save her from his colleagues, Rotimi Agunsoye (APC-Lagos), Chairman of the Committee, informed members that the Ministry of Finance should be held accountable for the non-release of the funds.

He disclosed that of late, he had been working closely with the SSA to ensure that funds were released and the projects executed.

“If you have your ZZiP and it has not been done, we will crosscheck with her office to ensure that it is done”, he said.

The Chairman urged his colleagues to exercise patience with the agency, as they commended the office, for performing credibly in the 2019 and part of 2020 budgets.

On her part, the SSA assured that she would make available relevant documents to the Chairman and communicate with members on their intervention projects.

Speaking on the intervention of her office during his COVID19, the SSA said that she did not receive any additional money from government or donors, but was able to provide intervention under the 2020 budget.

She disclosed that 100 bed and facemasks were provided to all states and the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), on equal basis as a palliative for the pandemic.

However, she complained that only Rivers state didn’t benefit from this intervention.

Speaking with such concerns, the SSA said that she did not know the grouse Rivers state and Governor Wine had against them.

She disclosed that her office has not been enjoying cooperation from the state saying, “they refuse everything that we give to them and don’t respond to our correspondences.”

The SSA said she was making plans to travel to the state to plead with the Governor and seek his cooperation in the interests of Rivers people.

Accordingly, Gogo Bright, a lawmaker representing Okrika/Ogu/Bolo Federal Constituency of Rivers state, who had earlier complained that the state was not benefitting from SDGs projects, offered to intercede to the Governor on her behalf.

He was therefore mandated by the committee to facilitate the visit of the SSA to the Governor and be present at the said visit to resolve all issues to engender cooperation by Rivers state government so that Rivers people can benefit from the intervention projects by SDGs.

Vanguard News