The 2nd Niger Bridge, anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS patients, Lagos-Ibadan expressway are amongst 10 key projects NASS reduced funds for in the 2018 budget.
Speaking after assenting to the budget, President Buhari accused the National Assembly of removing key projects and inserting their own projects into the document.
What Rep member, Abdulmumin Jibrin referred to as “Budget Padding” in 2016.
The budget estimate was also increased from N8.6 trillion submitted by the President in November 2017 to N9.120 trillion when passed by the National Assembly in May 2018.
“The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira,” Buhari cried out.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and costed and will therefore be difficult to execute.
“Furthermore, many of these new projects introduced by the National Assembly have been added to the budgets of most MDAs with no consideration for institutional capacity to execute them or the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.
“As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the States and Local Governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened."
Pulse takes a look at ten key projects that were altered in the 2018 budget.
1. The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.
2. Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.
3. The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations on this project.
4. The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.
5. The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.
6. The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.
7. At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.
8. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.
9. The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.
10. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.
President Buhari also noted that about "seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly."
Most of the projects were categorised under supply of industrial sewing machines, building of fish feed mills, supply of tricycles/motorcycles and Volkswagen Golf cars for community youth and women for empowerment programmes; purchase of grinding machines for women and youth, provision of boreholes in some rural communities; training and empowerment of non-violent ex-agitators; purchase and distribution of drilling hand pumps in some local communities.
Other items include provision of medical services outreach for aged displaced persons; supply of generators, sewing machines and clippers for youth empowerment and purchase and supply of utility vehicles for Ideato Youths; provision of complete set of grinding machines; construction and installation of solar street lights in some rural communities; erosion control works in some rural communities.
In addition, the National Assembly increased its budget from N125 billion proposed by President Buhari to N139.5 billion.
An extra N14.5 billion was added to the National Assembly budget.
"Another area of concern is the increase by the National Assembly of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of 73.96 billion Naira," Buhari said.
"Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance. An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself which has increased by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive" he added
In a swift reaction, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, said the budget of the National Assembly has reduced overtime adding that it was formally N150 billion.
"Before 2015, the budget of the National Assembly was N150 billion for several years. It was cut down to N120 billion in 2015 and further down to N115 billion in 2016," Namdas announced.
"In 2017, the budget was N125 billion and N139.5 billion in 2018. This means that the budget of the National Assembly is still far below the N150 billion in the years before 2015," he declared.
Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi aligned the Upper legislative chamber with the position of House while disclosing that the National Assembly would address journalists on the issues raised by President Buhari on the 2018 Budget.