by Akintomiwa Agbaje
The probe on the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) started on Wednesday over the N500 million claimed to have been spent on rehabilitating the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camp in Abuja.
The Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed was criticised by the committee for approving N140 million a year ago, for the repair of new buses donated to the SURE-P beneficiarie.
The minister was specifically asked to justify the approval of N140 million to refurbish new buses bought in 2012 by the Federal government, less than one year after the buses were purchased.
The Citizen reports:
The committee also raised eyebrow over the payment of N1 billion to the Abuja Investment Company when the agency was supposed to be an income-generating establishment.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Abdul Ningi, therefore, urged FCT management to forward details of allocation, receipts and payment made with the SURE-P funds since inception of the programme last year.
The committee frowned against spending such a huge sum on rehabilitation of NYSC camp in Abuja when the agency was being well funded by the Federal Government.
According to the committee, SURE-P was specifically for intervention and should be utilized as appropriate.
Senator Bala Mohammed, while promising to forward the statement of accounts and backlog of current account balance as requested, explained that Abuja Investment Company was registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, hence the ministry went through the company to procure vehicles under the mass transit scheme.
He assured that the money would be recouped since beneficiaries have accounts and sureties.
He said, “They are already paying back. Banks are already approaching us and promised us additional N1.1 billion loan because we have a system that is working.”
On the N140 million expended on the repair of new buses, Mohammed said, “The Indian vehicles we bought, 350 and additional 500 were not durable so we bought spare parts so that the vehicles will be on the road.”
He also added that the rehabilitation of the NYSC followed due process.
He stated that additional 100 new buses would be bought, as the ones on the fleet of his ministry’s mass transit scheme were already breaking down and that another N100 million lifeline was needed to help the operators build capacity on the management of the buses.
Mohammed said, “We have also procured additional 180 taxis. The FCT provides 10 per cent subsidy so that beneficiaries would be able to pay back.”