The South East Senate Caucus has expressed shock over a reported cut in the 2018 budget 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 N2 billion sustained by the two aviation committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, were said to have been slashed to N500 million.
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 N3.5 billion until the Ministry of Aviation told members of the caucus that what they had was an envelope which could not be increased beyond the N2 billion allocation.
Abaribe, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, noted for instance that N30 billion was smuggled into the power budget without his committee’s knowledge.
He said that the N30 billion 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 N30 billion come from.
“Let the budget office and other relevant bodies conduct a 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 N347 billion in the allocation to 4,700 projects submitted to it for consideration.
He also said that 6,403 projects were injected, amounting to N578 billion.
He stressed that many of the project cuts were critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation.