The Managing Director of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Nurudeen Rafindadi, on Thursday shocked members of the House of Representatives Committee on FERMA, headed by Rep. Richard Femi Bamise (APC-Ekiti), when he said the Ministries of Finance and Works and Housing inflated their 2021 Budget by over N11 billion.
A member of the committee, Yusuf Gadgi, had asked the FERMA boss why their budget had a sudden increase of over N11 billion.
He said: “Earlier to this moment, we’re privileged to know your budget proposal to the Ministry, which from the Ministry to getting to National Assembly the proposal changed from twenty something billion to thirty something billion.
“I will respectfully want you to address that aspect.
“Are you in charge of FERMA?
“How come before the proposal got to the National Assembly, it was increased upwards?
“If it was increased, confirm to us now.
“If it was not increased, confirm to us.
“And if it was increased, who is responsible for the increment with what you defended during your inter ministerial defence and coming to National Assembly and amount of over N11 billion was increased in the proposal you have earlier submitted.
“We want that confirmation from you.”
The FERMA boss, while answering the question said: “Our proposal of budget as it is today is submitted to the Federal Ministry of Works.
“And the reason is that FERMA is an agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Works.
“We’re represented at the cabinet by the Honourable Minister of Works.
“Our budget is in the envelope of the Ministry.
“So the Ministry is asked to submit their budget within that envelope and it includes budgets of agencies under the Ministry, of which FERMA is one.
“So we get instructions to submit our budget through the Ministry of Works.
“We submitted to them.
“And yes it is true, we submit our budget to the Ministry.
“What happens after is between the Ministry, then Ministry of Budget and Planning until subsequently it reaches the House of Representatives.
“We only know what was in our budget after submission.
“We’ve since gotten the budget of FERMA as submitted to the National Assembly and we’ve been analysing the differences between the two budgets like you said.”
Earlier, members of the committee had disallowed the agency from presenting its 2021 Budget over lack of execution of the 2020 budget
The decision on if or not to allow the presentation of the 2021 Budget tore members of the committee apart, resulting in a prolonged argument amongst members.
Rafindadi and his Management team were ordered out of the session as members deliberated amongst themselves on salient issues.
Members, while arguing, said the agency has been irresponsible and unresponsive to its core mandate.
Some of the members said they had called the Managing Director to alert him on the sorry state of some roads and he refused to pick their calls.
Besides, they said strange items regarding COVID-19 palliatives were seen in the FERMA budget, making members wonder what those have to do with road maintenance.
Also, the committee members said the relevant budget documents were submitted in the morning, a few hours to the sitting, depriving members of the opportunity to review the budget of the agency.
Efforts by the Chairman of the committee to prevail on the members on the excuse that time was short and the budget has to be passed in a timely fashion was rebuffed by member, causing the committee to go into a closed door session on the next line of action.
Eventually the FERMA boss and his team were called in.
But the lawmakers agreed that the budget hearing be moved to next week so that a thorough consideration can be done.