Members of the House of Representatives have raised doubt about the Federal Government’s claim that it spent over N1.3trn on capital projects in the county in 2016.
Some lawmakers, who spoke, said there was nothing to show that Nigerians felt the impact of the huge spending.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had disclosed last Monday that the government spent the money in 2016, adding that it was the “highest so far spent on capital projects in a single budget circle” in the country.
Osinbajo had spoken at a plenary of the 2017 Nigerian Bar Association National Conference in Lagos.
The Vice President had said, “The Federal Government spent about N1.3tn on capital projects in 2016, the highest in the history of the country.”
However, the Chairman, House Committee on Interior, Mr. Adams Jagaba, who said he doubted the figure, added that the impact of the money was barely felt in the economy.
Jagaba, a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kaduna State, said although he was part of the ruling party, such should not stop him from speaking his mind.
He said, “I can’t really say that there has been much impact from the money. What has been happening is that money is budgeted, but because of late releases, they are returned to the Federal Account.
“The late releases of capital allocations do not allow the executing government agencies to do many projects. In this way, there will hardly be any positive impact on the economy.”
He added that until the government started releasing budgeted funds early, they would remain as mere figures on paper.
Jagaba said, “The solution is for the executive to release capital allocations on time for procurement processes to start early. Look at the 2017 budget; they are just advertising the projects in August. The processing will take the next two to three months. The question is when will the projects start? How far will they go before we come to the end of the year and how will they or make any serious impact on the lives of Nigerians?
“With late releases of funds, I don’t think the desired results have been achieved. It may be on record that the government spent N1.3tn on projects, but was the money actually released or rolled over?”
Another legislator from Ebonyi State, Mr. Igariwey Iduma-Enwo, stated that Osinbajo’s statement was not clear on whether the money were projections or actual releases that were spent on projects.
“I am of the opinion that the claim must be taken with a pinch of salt because out of the humongous sum claimed to have been released, we are not told how much was actually cash-backed and utilised. Often, these two can be strange bedfellows,” he said.
Iduma-Enwo observed that in the South-East and South-South, the impact of the money was not felt, adding that all the federal roads in the zones were in a deplorable state.
He said, “My advice is twofold; I consider it a policy travesty for an administration that wishes to spend its way out of economic recession to lump three critical infrastructure-related ministries under one command. The merger of the ministries of power, works, and housing into one is a failure to recognise the importance of the sectors to the good health of the economy, and the magnitude of challenges confronting each of them. They should be unbundled without further delay in the national interest.