*Minister Disowns Strange Vote
*Lawmakers Summon Finance Minister
The Senate has queried the Minister of Works, Power and Housing over N2 bil fraudulently allocated for Regional Housing Scheme by the Ministry of Finance.
This was as Fashola shocked the Senate Committee on Land, Housing and Urban Development when he disowned the of N2 billion padded into the housing budget for Regional Housing Scheme. The Ministry of Housing has a total budgetary allocation of N64.991 billion proposals for the 2017 fiscal year.
While disowning the vote, Fashola told the committee that the Ministry of Finance planted it into the 2017 budgetary profile of the Ministry of Housing as its own initiative tagged: Regional Housing Scheme.
When asked by the committee chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade (APC, Benue North East), on how they came about the regional housing scheme, Fashola said: “I know as much of it as you do because it is not our initiative.”
Angered by the development, Gemade ordered the committee clerk to write the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to appear before it for explanation on the questionable vote.
Other votes in the N64.199 billion 2017 budgetary proposals of the Housing Ministry, apart from the padded N2 billion as presented by Fashola are: National Housing Programme, N41.89 billion; Construction, completion and rehabilitation of Federal Secretariats, N5.379 billion, Zik Mausoleum and Prototype Housing Scheme, N1.325 billion and Projects and Programmes under PPP, N3.367billion. Others are Cadastral URD and Lands, N3 billion; URD/Special Projects N2.140 billion; Payment of Outstanding Local Debts, N1.2 billion and Constituency Outreach Intervention Projects N1.69 billion etc.
However, Fashola requested the committee to add N6 billion to the total budget estimate of the ministry as an appropriated vote for payment of the $11.9 million Nigeria is owing Shelter Afrik, a Housing Development and Financing Organisation which has in its membership 44 African countries.
According to the minister, who is also the chairman of the governing board of the organisation on the slot of Nigeria, indebted nations like Nigeria are set to be expelled from the organisation by the end of this year if they failed to pay up their dues to avoid total collapse of the development organisation.
But the committee told him to forward a written request through the Ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning in that direction to it and the Committee of the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, serious disagreement ensued between the minister and the committee when the seeming moribund status of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) was raised. While the committee queried the minister on why he has been sidelining the Federal Housing Authority in the ministry’s implementation of the National Housing Programme, Fashola said that the FHA, as presently positioned, did not fit into projects delivery targets of the ministry.
According to him, “the FHA delivered the FESTAC Town Housing Estate in Lagos in the 70s, Gwarinpa Housing Estate in Abuja in the 90s, but mass housing deliveries being carried out by the ministry in collaboration with private developers are not being done decades apart, but on yearly basis in line with government’s intension of addressing the problem of housing deficit on time.
“If we are to address the housing deficit problem confronting Nigerians, it can’t be one decade or two decades intervention delivery model the FHA is known for.”
The committee, however, insisted that the minister must carry the government’s agency along and urged him to include it as one of the ministry’s contractors in the implementation of the National Housing Programme this year.