By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate has been told that the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, spent a total sum of N28.5billion on some activities within the Federal Capital Territory, FCT during the outbreak of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdown.
Speaking in Abuja when he presented the revised 2020 budget before the Senator Abubakar Kyari, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno North led Senate Committee on FCT, Minister of the FCTA, Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello, explained to the Committee that the fund was spent on provision of security services, provision of palliatives for indigent residents, as well as assisting neighbouring States who were distressed.
According to him, the FCT health facility supported residents from States where the level of government assistance was low and that the territory also provided healthcare services for both residents and non-residents of the city.
The Minister who noted that these took a tremendous toll on the financial resources of the FCT, said that a lot was done on the provision of palliatives for the masses, especially as help was not forthcoming from anywhere when the COVID-19 crisis started.
Bello who urged the Senate to review the FCT’s budget to reflect the realities on ground with respect to COVID-19 pandemic said that the territory realised N136billion from various sources, representing 54% of the N232.8billion earlier projected by the agency.
According to him, the FCT is seeking Senate review of its budget to enable it to take care of the key areas that must be sustained despite COVID-19, adding that almost all areas of the budget had been cut by 50%, except areas that have a direct bearing on human lives, such as school feeding programme, salaries, grants, among others.
Bello who stated that N61 billion has been proposed for capital projects, especially because of the need to continue the execution of key ongoing projects, said that 97.1% has been spent on recurrent budget, just as he stated that most 2020 capital projects have been rolled over to 2021 in the revised budget to be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
In his remarks, the chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Abubakar Kyari who hailed the FCT over its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, said that the prediction from the Western countries was gloomy for Nigeria, just as he said that the level of death predicted by the west did not take place as predicted because of the policies and strategy provided by the FCT Minister, adding that senate is appreciative of his contributions and efforts to ensure that COVID-19 did not spread across the federal capital.
Kyari who assured the minister that the Senate committee will expeditiously consider the revised budget of the FCT and send to the Senate for approval, however, requested that the 2021 budget of the territory be prepared and submitted early enough for quick passage by the Senate in meeting up with the January to December budget implementation cycle started this year.