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Senate South East Caucus Kicks Over Cut in Allocation to Enugu Airport, Says Some Projects Smuggled into Budget


President Muhammadu Buhari’s accusation that the budget he signed into law Tuesday was substantially uttered by the National Assembly has started to cause ripples in the Senate as the South East Senate Caucus has given vent to the allegation.
This is as the Caucus has expressed shock over the reported cut in the allocation for the Enugu Airport Terminal.
The Chairman of the caucus, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, and lawmakers from the region said they learnt that an allocation of N2bn sustained by the two aviation committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, were said to have been slashed to N500m.
He said that the caucus had summoned an emergency meeting of South East lawmakers to unravel when the cut was effected and by who.
He added that “no right thinking Igbo man would support any cut on allocation for projects in the South East region.”
Abaribe, who said that the budget documents were verifiable, noted that “we are committed and determined to find out who made the cut.”
He said that the caucus actually lobbied for the Enugu Airport Terminal allocation to be increased to N3.5bn until the Ministry of Aviation told members of the caucus that what they had was an envelope which could not be increased beyond the N2bn allocation.
Abaribe, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, noted for instance that N30bn was smuggled into the power budget without his committee’s knowledge.
He said that the N30bn was listed for expansion and re-enforcement of infrastructure in the distribution companies to reduce stranded firms
He added that “the amount never passed through the Senate Power committee.
“Where did such huge sum of N30bn come from.
“Let the budget office and other relevant bodies conduct self examination. Such self examination will go a long way to clear gray areas.”
He explained that “in the case of the Enugu Airport Terminal and the Second Niger Bridge, we want to find out at what point the cut was made.”
President Muhammadu Buhari who signed the 2018 budget on Wednesday, said that the National Assembly made cuts amounting to N347bn in the allocation to 4,700 projects submitted to it for consideration.
He also said that 6,403 projects were injected, amounting to N578bn.
He stressed that many of the project cuts were critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation.

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