Members of the House of Representatives’ committee on Aviation has threatened not to consider the 2017 budget proposal of the Ministry of Aviation if it does not provide a satisfactory defense of its 2016 budget implementation in the next 48 hours.
Chairperson of the committee, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha made this known during a session with officials of the Aviation ministry on Thursday at the National Assembly.
At the session, the Director of Finance of the ministry, Akin Ijiwole, could not satisfactorily explain to the lawmakers how the sum of N407 million was committed to a N700 million project, yet the project recorded zero performance in the budget document.
The Committee also expressed concerns over budget releases, budget performance and physical development of the Aviation Ministry, wondering why only 22 out of 98 capital projects were completed while 28 projects out of 32 were completed for Overhead.
Similarly, the lawmakers sought explanation for the release of N25 million out of N320 million for the Enugu Airport control tower with fiscal year running out.
When asked to break down the figures in the budget document, Ijiwole failed to convince the Committee with his explanation, prompting the lawmakers to direct that the ministry return after 48 hours to explain things more clearly.
The committee warned that failure to abide by the directive could hamper the consideration of the aviation ministry’s 2017 budget proposal.
“There is an urgent need to discuss procedures for making the aviation sector self-sustaining in line with the stance on diversification,” the Committee Chairperson, Onyejeocha said.
“The aviation sector is of enormous importance to our nation and matters concerning expenditure and revenue projections require careful consideration to reap the benefits the sector has to offer”.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika has said that all is now set for the closure of the Abuja Airport and the diversion of Abuja-bound flights to Kaduna airport.
“We have done all we can,” he said, “the process for closure of the airport is compete.”
“Even on security, we have constituted a Security Committee headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, with high ranking military and other security agencies officers as members.
“Their mandate is to provide maximum security on the Abuja-Kaduna road for the users of the road.”
Sirika further said that “The government of Kaduna State is also ready for the closure by offering to repair a section of the road leading to the Kaduna Airport, in addition to enhancing the road with street lights and cleared bush.
“The State will also construct a bye-pass route for users of the airport to avoid heavy traffic within the town.
“The government has also assured that other auxiliary services are ready with provision of restaurants and others.”