Budget Defence: Diaspora C’mttee expresses displeasure over unspent allocation in mass literacy commission

As the defence of the 2020 budget proposal by the Miniseries, Department and Agencies, MDAs of the Federal Government continues at the National Assembly, the Diaspora Committee of the House of Representatives on Monday expressed displeasure over the failure of the National Commission for Mass Literacy to execute projects captured in its 2019 budget despite the availability enough funds projects.

Speaking during the budget defence of the Commission before, the Chairperson of the Committee Hon. Tolu Akande Shadipe lamented that the Commission failed to deliver on its mandate as expected in the fiscal year.

She said that the unspent allocation meant that the Commission shelved many people-oriented programmes it was supposed to execute on behalf of government.

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Shadipe who particularly recalled the sacrificing of a certain Diaspora’s programme by the Commission for other ‘crucial’ projects couldn’t relate it with the non-execution of the projects.

She queried the internal process of procurement in the Commission, saying that something was wrong.

According to her, “for better efficiency, something needs to be done. There are issues that have not to be looked at as regards to your process. You said you couldn’t do the Diaspora issue because of crucial issues. If there were burning issues, how come the money wasn’t spent? It shouldn’t be money sitting in the bank account

“You need to deal with your process so that once you make an appropriation and the monies are released…work on your processes.”

In his contribution, a member of the Committee, Hon. Preye Oseke, berated the action of the Commission, saying that it was not necessary to approve the 2020 budget for the Commission since it was yet to spend that of 2019.

According to him, “in your own case, you have N220 released to you, you only spent N8 million. In next years budget, you have asked for more

“N1.1b for 2020 is unnecessary because you don’t need the money. You cannot have the money that you have not spent and still ask for more. You don’t need this money. This money should be deployed to some places it is needed.”

However, a member of the Committee, Hon. Abiente advised that caution should be taken in asking the Commission to spend its budget so as not to misappropriate it to insignificant areas.

In his response, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Abba Halidu said that spendings were prioritized.

He however asked the Committee to give him till the end of the year to make more impact with the budget.

According to him, “the spending is in process. For every programme, we follow some certain steps in terms of implementation. You prioritized and spent on the ones. Work is currently going on, it is only when the contractor finishes that I pay him.

“Some of these activities are training programmes. We are instructed to roll over 2019 budget into 2020 budget. Of course, we have a time frame for projects. We will let you know when we will spend the money. I will give you reports on the implementation.

“I think I should only be judged at the end of the year. Until and unless the year comes to an end and I didn’t implement…I think I should be given the privilege to spend the money based on the programmes. I still have two months left.”

When further asked whether he advertises the projects before awarding contracts, the Executive Secretary simply replied: “There is no major capital project that requires us to advertise.”

Asked also to enumerate the projects, Halidu said the commission’s projects included ” providing offices in the states, training programmes for facilitators, those responsible for teaching adult learners. They need to be trained on how to mobilize the community. They need to be trained.

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