2021 budget: Reps dismiss Ahmed, Akabueze’s representatives

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The House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, on Monday, dismissed representatives of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze.

The committee had invited Ahmed and Akabueze to explain how the 2021 Appropriation Bill was designed such that proposed estimates of critical ministries, departments, and agencies were slashed, especially the reduction in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

Chairman of the committee, Lynda Ikpeazu, said, “You will recall that on the 11th November, this committee embarked on budget hearings for the 2021 Appropriation Bill. At the end of our meetings, there was a motion and a resolution adopted by the committee to invite the Ministry of Finance headed by the Minister, the DG Budget, to get some explanations and clarification on the budgeting process and system currently being used in Nigeria vis a vis the impact on the implementation of the 2021 Appropriation Act.

“On this note, we called for a meeting today and we asked them to appear before us. As it is, the meeting was slated for 12 pm today but unfortunately, they failed to show up. But the good thing is they sent a representation. Maybe the representatives will introduce themselves but obviously, we cannot take you because you are not the heads of the agencies and you cannot answer the questions that the committee expects.

“This is not an adequate representation. We need the head of the ministry and the relevant agency, which in this case is the Budget Office…the DG Budget Office and the Minister of Finance or the Minister of State.”

The Director, Expenditure, Budget Office of the Federation, Anselm Anyanwu, represented Akabueze, saying “he has some reasons he cannot be around to attend to you.”

Also, Alfred Okoh, who was also from the Budget Office of the Federation and represented Ahmed, said, “I will like to convey the apology of the Honourable Minister of Finance who had a pre-scheduled meeting today at the Nigerian Economic Summit currently happening at Transcorp Hilton.

“The Minister of State who planned to be here on behalf of the ministry, unfortunately, is currently sitting on a panel. The time for the sitting was supposed to be before this meeting; he had planned to finish that and join us here. Unfortunately, he just sent me a message while sitting here to say that his panel was overrunning and he could not join us; that he would like us to convey his apology and that he had mandated the director to take your questions.

“But as the committee said, we will take your message back to the Honourable Minister.”

Responding, Ikpeazu said, “On this note, we will close the session.”

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