The senate has rejected the provision of a N16 billion provided for in the Ministry of Environment budget for payment of debt which maturity deadline is in 2023.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, raised the objection when he presented the budget of the ministry to the main Appropriations Committee in Abuja.
Ekweremadu’s curiosity was triggered when he saw that last year there was N6 billion in the budget for servicing of multilateral loans relating to erosion control.
But regrettably, about N1.6 billion was released to the Environment Ministry and later the Ministry of Finance wrote to say it was a mistake, that it was supposed to be from the Service wide vote where they service most of the loans.
The former deputy senate president said they took it in good faith, “but surprisingly we got N16 billion in the 2022 budget for the same reason for the Ministry of Environment and because there was a directive from the leadership of the National Assembly that we should not tamper with monies provided for multilateral loans.”
He said the committee decided to find out what it is all about, and eventually invited the ministry official who now said that by the time they got their envelope, the money they sent to ministries to distribute to agencies, there was no such amount. “By the time the money came to the National Assembly, there was N16 billion for the servicing of the new map loan.
We asked when this money is due for servicing, they said there is a 10 year moratorium we can’t provide for it until 2023.”
The committee also found out that about 21 states are benefiting from the loan and it is these states that will pay the loan and not the federal government, adding “it is either we wait until 2023 before making provisions for it or we ask the states to start making provisions for it if they have to pay now.
“Even if the federal government has to pay, it has to go through the service wide votes, not the respective budgets of the MDAs, ” adding “it’s wrong, the anomaly is untidy”.
Speaking on climate change, Ekweremadu said Nigeria is determined to ensure that we roll back the issues of climate change.
On desertification, he said “the bulk of the fight against desertification is coming from the Great Green Wall, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Environment.
He said the agency has “enough money” but this money is completely outside the budgetary provisions as some of it comes from the federal government directly.
In another development, Senator Ali Ndume, chairman Senate Committee on Army, has made a strong case for more funds for the Nigerian Army.
“We are here to ask for an increase in the capital component of the Nigerian Army so that they will have the necessary resources and tools to prosecute the war they are engaged in, unconventional war everywhere.”
In his response, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin Barau, said the report submitted by Ndume “is precise and straight to the point. We are satisfied with your report.