Reps query Sheda’s astronomic increase of N20m budget to N2bn within 7-yr

The House of Representatives on Thursday queried the astronomic increase of the appropriation of Sheda Science and Technology Complex Abuja, under the Ministry of Science and Technology from N20 million in 2015 to over N2.5 billion in 2021.

This was as the agency, Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), Abuja, appeared before the House ad-hoc committee investigating capital projects executed and funds repeated every year in the Appropriation Act by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government since 2015.

A copy of the submission of the agency to the committee now in possession of the Nigerian Tribune revealed that the agency demanded the following sums N20m, N342.1m, N501.1m, N670.2m, N730.6m, and N2.5b for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively.

The record showed releases made to the agency for the consecutive years were N10m, N205.5m, N250.6m, N313m, N248.7m, and N730.6m for 2015 to 2020. For 2021, it showed that over N66 million had been released so far.

The submission further showed that the agency utilized 100 percent of the money given to it except for 2020 where it spent N730, 381, 598.67 out of the N730, 589, 076 it received. There was no record for funds expended in 2021.

Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Rep Abubakar Makki Yalleman, accused the agency of continuously repeating the same projects in their budget.

He wondered how they went ahead to spend over N200 million in their second year after just N10 million the previous year.

According to him, “so going by your record you submitted to us in 2015 you were doing appropriation of N20 million. N10 million was given to you. N10 million was released to you and you utilized it. To my surprise, you demanded three hundred and forty-something million and two hundred and something million was released to you again.

“This is why Nigeria is leaking. See where the leakages are. If in 2015 you demand N20m and in 2016 you demand over N200 million and if you remember that there is a medium-term sector strategy, how can you justify this request?

“You even had the power to request over N2b in 2021. This is surprising and the whole releases are there. Virtually 100 percent release, while some other agencies are crying even under your ministry. See where the money is going. Please we should try and help Nigerians. When you are given a fund, you utilize it.

“You are repeating projects and that is the purpose of this committee to fish out agencies like you. Nigeria cannot continue with this. This government has good intentions for the citizens of this country, but you cannot be lumping money into an agency while other sectors are sinking. Please we should try and help this government.”

Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Prof Paul Onyenekwe attempted to defend himself by saying most of the funds the agency received were for constituency projects and not its routine projects, but this did not satisfy the chairman and other members of the committee.

According to him, “my belief is that like when we look at last year’s budget, yes we are seeing over 700 million there, but when you look at it critically, you will discover that most of that was all constituency projects. The same thing is applicable in 2021. Out of this N2.5 billion, ours is about N600 million. These are constituency projects.”

The chairman of the committee, Yalleman, asked him to bring details of the agency’s spending and other relevant information to the committee by next Tuesday for further legislative action.

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