The N4bn for the African First lady Peace Mission House Project in the Federal Capital Territory Budget proposal brought to the House in February which raised criticisms from the public has been dropped by the Senate.
The House of Assembly which had an estimated N259.65 billion budget of the FCT for the 2013 fiscal year waved the peace mission house N4b proposal as being exorbitant.
The N4bn was aimed at constructing the mission house in Abuja, a mission that is headed by the wife of the President of the Federal Republic Dame Patience Jonathan and had been declared by the Federal Government as a non-governmental organization. The senate questioned the justification for allocating such whooping sum from public funds to prosecute a private project during the second reading of the bill and according to the members, approving it was seen not only as bad but also as authorizing illegality as the office is not provided for in the 1999 Constitution.
The analysis of the budget breakdown include: N48.03bn approved for personnel matters; N49.5bn for overhead; N97.54bn for recurrent expenditure; and N155.66bn as capital expenditure.
The Vice Chairman of the Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator Babajide Omoworare vehemently kicked against the allocation, saying that “The Women Development Centre is there for the First Lady to do anything she wants to do and I’m not aware that there’s a First Lady’s Mission office in the United States of America where we copied the presidential system of government. There is no such building in South Africa and even Ghana that is our neighbour. “Four billion naira can be used for a lot of other things. He also, called for the need to set priorities right saying that “I remember in this chamber last year, we voted N1 billion only for new federal universities yet, we are being asked to appropriate N4 billion for an office that’s alien to the Constitution” and advised that the committee revisits the issue.
He also lamented saying: “I’m worried and I hope that those of us who are leaders in this country do not take the youths for granted. How can we vote N4 billion for the Office of the First Lady? I just pray and hope that this doesn’t get to the public because if it does, we are in trouble.”
In his presentation of the budget, the Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said, “It is worthy of note that the proposed appropriation for the construction of building for the African First Ladies’ Peace Mission has been distributed to meet pressing needs in the area of engineering and satellite towns.”
He said the budget was founded on projected revenue of N259.698bn with a fiscal surplus of N645, 666. He further buttress the point that “in carrying out its oversight duties, the committee identified critical areas of need for the development of the territory and to ensure improved standard of living for its inhabitants. Therefore, the committee jostled with the budget estimates, deploying funds to meet areas of critical needs like roads, water, health, education and development of satellite towns within the territory, city maintenance and cleaning, recreational facilities, construction of rehabilitation centres, agriculture, transportation, security services and rehabilitation of the ECOWAS Parliament Building.”
David Mark the president of the senate after passing the bill, implored the committee to stand up to its task and discharge same effectively.
He also stated the need for directing attention towards tackling the problems of traffic congestion and maintaining the streets, the gardens and the lawns which when not achieved, portrays decay in the FCT.