Senate rejects budget proposal as agency sites 20 projects in minister’s LGA

The budget defence of the Senate Committee on Power and Rural Electrification Agency (REA) deadlocked on Wednesday, as the Committee uncovered that the Minister of Power, Alhaji Mamman Saleh has cited 20 projects in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State, where he hails from.

The projects, which were in the range of N52 million each in the proposed 2021 budget, were uncovered while being scrutinised by the Committee members.

Expressing their dissatisfaction with the budget proposals of the Rural Electrification Agency, the Committee insisted that the REA budget proposal would not be approved, particularly on notice that the entire South-South geopolitical zone has only one power project to be constructed in 2021.

The Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency, Ahmad Salijo after explaining the 2020 budget performance, sought Senate’s approval of 2021 budget proposals.

Meanwhile, Senator Yusuf Yusuf drew attention of his colleagues to the lopsidedness in the distribution of projects, insisting that the proposal shouldn’t be approved.

Yusuf, who represents Taraba Central Senatorial district, maintained that the lopsidedness showed that all the mini-grid projects were lumped in the local government of the Minister in Taraba State.

“It is not just the N52m, but if you look at from number 85, N30m, N20m, N40m and they are all concentrated in one Local Government Area.

“That is the minister’s LGA. Twenty projects are in the Lau Local Government Area. I am not challenging him, but I am sure,” he said.

A member of the Committee, Senator Bala Ibn’Nallah accused the Minister of Power of violating his oath of office.

He added that the minister was making Buhari look like he is a president of one geopolitical zone.

He said: “Those who elected us to these offices expected us to ensure that the constitution which they have made for themselves and given to us will be executed to the letter.

“The President wants to be the president of every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Therefore, he would want loyalty and cooperation from every citizen of the country. If we sit down here and agree that a budget that pleases a minister, can come, the Minister is not doing himself good because he has sworn to do justice to all manner of the people and not to allow his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision.

“He has by this clearly shown that he has allowed his personal interest to affect his official conduct and decision, and that is a very serious matter.

“Governance is a very serious issue. I think you (MD) must take this observation seriously and convey it to the minister. Tell him that the committee is not in agreement with him.”

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam, after his remark, adjourned till Monday next week.

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