FCT Earmarks N7.5 billion For Construction Of City Gates, N4 billion for First Lady’s Office

The Federal Capital Territory has proposed spending N5bn on prostitutes and destitutes who loiter the streets of Abuja in the year 2013.

In its budget proposal for this year, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has also proposed N4bn for the construction of a mission building for the First Lady, N150m for the renovation of the Vice President’s Guest House in Asokoro District, N7.5bn for the construction of two city gates, and N2.9bn out of the N5.7bn kept aside for procurement and other essentials will go to sweeping and provision of sanitation services to the city.

The FCTA as parts of moves to rid the streets of Abuja of prostitutes and destitute has set up two training camps in Lugbe part of the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC and Bwari Area Council.

The Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB is responsible for removing the prostitutes and destitutes from the streets, while the Social Development Secreteriat will handle their rehabilitation.

A source at the FCTA disclosed the prostitutes when arrested, will be taken to Lugbe where they will be engaged in vocational training in hairdressing, making of yoghurt, computer training, among others for a minimum period of three months. Since the commencement of theprogramme last year, 1,000 persons have been graduated.

While leading the debate yesterday, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba who presented the FCT Statutory Appropriation Bill 2013, said the total Statutory budget stands at N253,199,752,409, with N48,034,818,410 voted for Personnel costs; N49,504,534,358 for Overhead Costs and the balance of N155,660, 399,641 is for Capital Projects for the service of the Federal Capital Territory commencing from January 1, and ending on December 31, 2013.

According to Senator Ndoma-Egba, another N7.5 billion will be spent in 2013 by the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, AMMC, where the Departments of Development Control, Parks and Recreation, Facility Management and Urban Affairs belong.

Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba said: “The sum of N4 billion is proposed for the construction of First Lady Mission Building. Also, the sum of N150 million is set aside for the renovation of Vice President’s Guest House in Asokoro.

“The sum of N50.5 billion is proposed for the development of transport sector. Out of this amount, there is a Chinese loan of N44.5 billion for the construction of Abuja 60.37 standard gauge rail track with ancillary facilities.

“The secretariat is saddled with the responsibility of promoting social activities like sports, arts and culture, tourism, empowerment programmes, rehabilitate prostitutes and destitute, etc in the territory. In 2013, the total sum of N5 billion is earmarked to address some of the social menace within the FCT.

“The sum of N30 billion is earmarked for the provision of infrastructure and services in the education sector in year 2013. This will also cater for the expansion and rehabilitation of Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and Vocational Schools, as well as to provide teaching aid materials. This will improve the quality and standard of education in FCT.

“The sum of N24 billion is proposed for the provision of infrastructural facilities and to complete the on-going projects. N23 billion is for the completion of on-going projects while N470 million is for new projects.”

Meanwhile, in the debates that ensured over the budget proposal, the senators were of the opinion that some of the provisions, such as the proposed vote of N4 billion in the FCT budget of N253, 199, 752, 409 for First Lady Mission Building as not only scandalous, but an endorsement of illegality against the backdrop that the office does not exist in the 1999 Constitution.   They argued that public funds must not be used on a private project of such.

Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi, PDP, Bauchi Central while leading a strong opposition against the budget said, “N150 million is too much for the renovation of the Vice President’s guest house in Asokoro. How much is the building that it will now gulp N150 million for renovation?”

Also in his contribution, Vice chairman, Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs,  Babajide Omoworare, ACN, Osun East who also kicked against the expenditure, said: “I’m worried about the provision of bogus figures, there’s a lot of disconnect. This budget hasn’t shown the reality of what’s happening in and around Abuja. Provision of N4 billion for building a mission office for the First Lady is scandalous.

“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 Ladies Mission office in the United States of America from where we copied the Presidential system of government. There is no such building in South Africa and even Ghana that is our next door neighbour.

He noted that N4bn could be used to achieve a lot of things, making a comparison to the National Universities Commission which only got N1bn while an office which the constitution does not recognize gets four times that amount.

Also in his remark, Vice chairman, Committee on Establishment and Public Service Committee, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, ACN, Ekiti Central, who was also displeased with some proposals of the FCT Budget, said: “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.

“How can you appropriate money for an office that’s not known to the Constitution?”

Speaking further, Senate President Mark urged the Senator Bala Mohammed-led administration to set its priorities in the budget right, rather than start projects that would not be 90 per cent completed at the end of every fiscal year.

The Senate President in his remarks noted that the government had misplaced its priorities in the budget as the most important things were not being paid attention to, even as he urged the Senators to make sure they carried out their oversight functions effectively.

He said: “You’ve all made very valid contributions. I think the main problem with the budget is getting our priorities right. Some issues have come to the forefront that shouldn’t come to the forefront. I’m wary of completing some projects haphazard.”

The Herald NG

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