Senate summons Fashola, walks out Minister
Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals on Monday, walked out the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Abubakar Aliyu, from Akintoba budget defence session.
The panel said the Minister was not competent to defend the Ministry’s budget.
The Minister of State for Works and Housing had appeared before the lawmakers to defend 2020 budget proposal of the Ministry.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Aishat Dahiru, prevented the Minister from presenting the budget before the Committee because the Minister was still new in the Ministry.
They, therefore, requested the presence of the substantive Minister, Babatunde Fashola, who is back to the same ministry for a second term in office.
Dahiru said Fashola must appear in person to clarify the implementation of some 2019 SDGs projects.
She said, “Most of the replies to correspondences the Committee exchanged with the Ministry were personally signed by Fashola.
“The issues for which the Committee is seeking clarification took place when Fashola was Minister of Power, Works and Housing, hence, he is the only one competent to shed light on them.
“The minister decided to travel after agreeing on the session with the committee only to send the Minister of State to represent him.”
The committee unanimously resolved to turn down the Minister of State and adjourned to await Fashola by 2pm on Monday.
Fashola did not show up at the end of the day.
However, the Minister of State explained to the Committee that he was competent to defend the budget.
He said, “Besides, I am here with senior government officials of the Ministry, including the permanent Secretary.
“I have been adequately briefed to response to all aspects of the 2019 budget implementation in the ministry.”
He said the senior minister, Fashola, was out of the country on other official engagements.
Aliyu extended the apologies of Fashola to the committee who he said had travelled for an urgent national assignment.
He, however, said he was sent by Fashola to stand in for him, saying he was ready to address the concerns of the Committee.
A member of the Committee, Senator Teslim Folarin, said it was wrong of Fashola to have traveled without appearing before the committee.
He reminded the Minister of the Presidential directive barring ministers from traveling or absenting themselves from the budget defence sessions of the National Assembly.
However, in apparent reply to the remarks by Folarin, the Minister of State for Works said that Fashola duly sought clearance and the permission of the President to embark on the journey.
Senator Godiya Akwashiki said that the committee remained unanimous that Fashola should appear before it in person.
Fashola had been overseeing the Ministry since November 2015.
Abubakar was just appointed as Minister for state for the Ministry in August.
Other members of the Committee present at the session included Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, Senator Danladi Sankara, Senator Lekan Mustapha, and Senator Gabriel Suswam.