Reps reject N45.32bn budget for Northeast

By Tordue Salem, Abuja

Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday dismissed as the low, the N45.32billion allocated for infrastructure in the region.

They argued that the sum allocated to the North East Development Commission is insufficient to raise the standards of people in the conflict riddled region.

The legislators pushed back at the earmark, through a motion on the need to address the fiscal and infrastructural deficit in the North East zone presented on the floor of the House on Tuesday.

The lead sponsor of the motion, Rep. Zainab Gimba (Borno-APC), said the economy of the zone, was in a shambles and drastically brought down, by insurgency and associated acts of brigandage in the last ten years and require urgent intervention to save it from total collapse.

The House therefore resolved to that its Committees on Finance, Appropriation and North East Development Commission should interface with the Ministry of Finance to see how to enhance provision for capital projects for the NEDC under the Service Wide vote.

Rep. Gimba (APC-Borno) said the security challenges that have ravaged the North–East Zone in the last ten years, “weakened the economy and other sectors in the zone, while activities of Boko Haram insurgents, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements have continued to pose serious threats to the socio-economic stability of the zone, precipitating poverty, high mortality and other humanitarian crises”.

The Borno lawmaker stressed that “insurgency has claimed several lives, aggravated food insecurity, damaged road infrastructure, health and education sectors and others in the region, adding that only an intensive plan can restore these facilities”.

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She argued that” the role of development planning in addressing the obvious infrastructural deficit in the North East imposed by insurgents’ destructive activities cannot be overemphasised”, adding that “the role of fiscal policy which is predominantly a budgetary activity, refers to government adjustments on spending levels and tax rates to monitor and influence a nation’s economy- infrastructure inclusive”.

Rep. Gimba was miffed that despite the glaring infrastructural deficit in the North–East, the Federal Government proposed the paltry “sum of 45.32 billion naira in the 2021 budget estimates for capital projects in the North East, representing a mere 0.35 per cent of the 13.02 trillion naira budget proposal, which is grossly inadequate and would cause a grave setback to the quest of the people for decent living standard”.

She expressed disappointment that “the provisions for road infrastructure in the zone by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing is either delayed, slow or non-existent, calling for a thorough review of the road development plan in the North East”.

He lamented the” lack of provision in the 2021 budget for Mambilla Hydro Power project that is meant to stabilise power supply in the zone”, adding that “the absence of consultation with core stakeholders and beneficiaries before projects, were proposed and implemented in the North–East Zone”, thereby reducing the impact of the projects on the area’s population.

She argued that “the share of the North East from the N23 trillion post-COVID –19 Economic Stimulus for States remains unfair in view of socio-economic challenges confronting the North East, while the funds allocated for afforestation and other Climate targeted projects in the North East and North West Zones of Nigeria are either unimplemented, partially implemented or poorly implemented”.

The House adopted her motion wholesale, resolving that the House Committees on Finance and Northeast Development Commission, should liaise with the Ministry of Finance, to raise the budget for the region through the Service-wide Vote(A reserve exigency fund).

The House also resolved to mandate the Committee on Finance to look into the sharing structure of COVID–19 Intervention Fund, while the House Committee on Environment is to ensure implementation of Climate Targeted Projects in the zone.

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