Budget defence: Senators angry with Fashola, snub Minister of State

The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Monday expressed its displeasure over the absence of the Minister of Works and Housing, Honourable Raji Fashola, at the budget session.

Minister of State for Works and Housing, Abubakar Aliyu, who stood in for Honourable Fashola was rebuffed by the Committee led by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed.

Honourable Aliyu had earlier extended the apologies of Fashola to the Committee as he disclosed that the latter was outside the country.

The senators took exception to the excuse as they restated the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that no Minister should exit the country while the budget defence was still ongoing.

Senator Ahmed disclosed that all the correspondences emanating from the Ministry to the Committee were personally signed by the substantive Minister.

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She further noted that all the issues for which the Committee was seeking clarification took place when Fashola was Minister of Power, Works and Housing, and he was the only one competent to offer a satisfactory response.

The committee unanimously turned down the explanations of the Minister of State and adjourned to await Fashola appearance by 2 pm on Monday. The former Lagos State governor who apparently was outside the country could not show up at the end of the day.

Senator representing Oyo Central, who incidentally is a member of the Committee, Senator Teslim Folarin expressed strong reservation over the absence of Fashola at the budget defence.

He said the Minister’s action showed lack of respect for the Senate as he submitted that he should not have travelled without appearing before the committee in deference to President Buhari’s directive barring ministers from traveling or absenting themselves from the budget defence sessions of the National Assembly.

The Minister of State for Works, however, clarified that Fashola duly sought for clearance and the permission of the President to embark on the journey.

Other members of the Committee present at the session included Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, Senator Danladi Sankara, Senator Lekan Mustapha and Senator Gabriel Suswam.

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