Following a report of embezzlement previously published by 247ureports.com on N1billion cornered by the Secretary of the SURE-P and Special Adviser to the President, Nze Akachukwu Nwamkpa – the Joint Committee on Petroleum Downstream of the National Assembly found cause to examine the activities of the much hyped Subsidy Re-investment Program (SURE-P) as the committee members of SURE-P presented themselves before the National Assembly [NASS] yesterday.
The NASS committee could not contain visibly displaying their anger yesterday as it gradually became clear that the SURE-P project was tilting towards the usual wastage culture of the country.
The Joint Committee on Petroleum Downstream of the National Assembly could not but frown at some schemes of the scheme which were considered unjustified, given that despite the huge figure of N33.2bn devoted to execution of said schemes, not much could be accounted for in terms of implementation.
Members of the Committee also queried the loose spending habit of the SURE-P Committee when it stumbled across evidence in its 2012 appropriation that showed that it spent N75 million on just undertaking a tour of its projects over a four month period.
Chairman of SURE-P, Dr. Christopher Kolade, who appeared a second time yesterday before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum Downstream intimated that the Committee spent N27 billion, N4 billion and N2.2 billion respectively on Youth Empowerment Programme, Mass Transit Scheme and Secretariat services in its 2012 appropriation.
Kolade, Monday, while defending SURE-P’s 2013 budget, however pleaded
with members of the Joint Committee to allow him time until Friday in order to tender evidence of spending.
Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Down Sector, Senator Magnus Abe, while taking on members of the SURE-P Committee said: “For instance, on the mass transit transportation figures, if you say you spent N4 billion on mass transportation, how did you spend it? If you say you bought buses, how many buses did you buy and who are the people using them? Have they started paying back the money? We must as legislators, when we say it is okay the people will know that it is okay.”
Members of the Committee also frowned at the N75 million expenses on the inspection of its ongoing projects across the country.
Reacting to an answer to answer that about 10,000 jobs were created by a member of the SURE-P committee, Senator Abe said: “I don’t think this your explanation will go anywhere. You collected N27 billion and you say you are going to create 50,000 jobs. I think you need to have a document that actually explains how the lives of those 50,000 will be transformed and how you are going to attain from point A to B.”
Senator Abe also condemned the method employed by the SURE-P Committee towards addressing the issue of job creation.
He said: “We have done that before in this country, like the issue of poverty alleviation using N10 billion that was brought to pay people. If we want to help unemployment in Nigeria we must design a programme that actually put something into the lives of the people that is sustainable and lasting, to now share N10,000 to people. There is no guarantee as to which people will get it.”
In his remark, Hon. Peterside Dakuku, who expressed displeasure with explanation from the committee members. He added: “I don’t think there is anything that you will say now that will convince anybody.
He added, “Please just get the documents across to us. If eventually the documentation convince us that we will be able to sustain that proposal, if it does not we will move the funds elsewhere where it will add value.”
“I’m sure that this is one hearing that Nigerians are very and will be interested in, and to a very reasonable extent I wish to commend the candour and the transparency of the members’ as much as possible, to open up the processes of SURE-P to proper legislative scrutiny.
“Let me also say that there are still a few questions hanging and to remind you of your commitment that you will provide these details by tomorrow, given your history with this joint committee hearing and the last time you made commitment you made it on time.
“We therefore decided to take your words for it and therefore with respect to your age and status in the country, we will hope we will get those details tomorrow.” senator Abe stated.