The Senate Committee on the FCT has expressed concerns over the dwindling budgetary allocation to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA)
The committee made the observation when the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Bala Mohammed defended the 2014 budget estimates of the FCTA.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said that while the demands for infrastructure in the FCT increases, the budgetary allocations had continued to decline over the years.
Adeyemi said considering the continued reduction in the budget of FCT, the Authority might not be able to deliver on its mandate of providing the needed infrastructure for the FCT and satellite towns.
“The demands of the FCT are ever increasing but the allocations cannot be sufficient for the FCTA to develop the city and take care of infrastructure demands of the satellite towns.
“In fact, apart from ending up with abandoned projects scattered all over the place, they would not even be able to pay contractors for jobs done so far.
“The Federal Government must show commitment to develop the FCT by providing adequate funds that will impact the lives of the residents, especially those in the satellite towns,” he said.
Earlier, the FCT minister told the committee that FCTA required N470.3 billion for payment and completion of 17 key projects in the National Priority Budget.
Bala said the FCT 2014 National Priority Budget was given a budget ceiling of N30.4 billion which was inadequate for the FCTA to operate optimally.
“The paltry sum of N30.4 billion budget ceiling given to the FCT by the Budget Office may not allow the FCT to operate at the required capacity, let alone providing world class infrastructure.
“Most of the 17 projects were to be rolled off by the year 2011. The implication of this ceiling is that these projects would either be underfunded or abandoned,” Bala said.
He said the FCTA was working to harness other options of generating revenue to enable it fulfill its strategic role of building a befitting Federal Capital City.
Out of N57 billion appropriated for the FCT in 2013, the minister said that only N32.9 billion was released leaving a balance of N24 billion.
A hot exchange broke out between a member of the committee, Sen. Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman and the minister following an observation by the former that there was absence of leadership in the FCTA.
Abatemi-Usman had criticised the FCTA for condoning the indiscriminate parking by transport operators which caused heavy traffic gridlock in various areas of the city centre.
But the minister reacted that Abatemi-Usman’s comment was intended to malign his integrity by insinuating that the rascality and impunity of transport operators was due to an absence of leadership.
“I feel insulted by your comment. I see it as an attack on my integrity and I take exception to it. You cannot tell me that it is the absence of leadership,”Bala fumed.
Abatemi-Usman, however, said he was not out to question the minister’s integrity but rather just to call his attention to activities of motorists in the city centre.
“I want the public to note that I make no attempt to attack or talk about your integrity. I am only bringing to your attention issues that have been going on and I hope that this is a wakeup call,” he explained.
The minister apologised for misinterpreting the Senator’s intent saying “I apologise for reacting because I felt insulted, but whatever, I am your servant and the servant of Nigeria.
He said that his administration was doing everything possible to tackle the various challenges facing the FCTA in the discharge of its mandate to the people.