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Senate slams FG over envelope budgeting, Ajaokuta steel project neglect

The Senate Committee on Solid Minerals Mine, Steel Development and Metallurgy Monday slammed the federal government for forwarding...

The Senate Committee on Solid Minerals Mine, Steel Development and Metallurgy Monday slammed the federal government for forwarding to the National Assembly, envelope budgeting for approval. 

It also frowned at the abandonment of Ajaokuta Iron and Steel project.

The committee said the government talked much about economic diversification, but allocated meagre fund to the solid mineral sector annually. 

The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, had told the committee during budget defence that out of the ministry’s N23.4bn  budgetary allocation in 2022, N10bn is for personnel cost; N1.47bn for overhead cost and N11bn for capital projects. 

Angered by the submission, members of the committee decried the meagre budgetary allocation to the sector, which they said, should rank second after the oil and gas.  

The chairman, Senator Tanko Al-Makura (APC Nasarawa), said: “The yearly ritual called budget is garbage in garbage out, which will not take the country to anywhere as far as diversification is concerned.”

Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi) said the economic team of President Muhammadu Buhari was clearly out of tune with realities on ground as regards what Nigerians’ need.

“How on earth would a minister propose N82bn for procurement of mosquitoe net and a sector as important as the solid minerals is given N10 or N11bn?

“Ajaokuta iron and steel complex that can give jobs to about 50,000 Nigerians is lying fallow in a country with army of unemployed youths. 

“Nigeria is bleeding from this envelope form of budgeting riddled with repetition of line items and allocations on yearly basis

“The best way of doing this is to remove whatever bottleneck hindering continuation of work on Ajaokuta Steel complex and get it completed,” he said.

The minister, in his response, said envelope budgeting was not the creation of the ministry as it affects other government agencies.

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