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SHOCKING….Senate uncovers N16bn illegally stuck in 2022 budget 

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SHOCKING....Senate uncovers N16bn illegally stuck in 2022 budget 
Senate Committee on Environment, said that it has uncovered about N16 billion to have been included in the 2022 budget by the Federal Ministry of Environment for the servicing of a multilateral loan regarding to erosion control believed to have been collected by some state governments.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who dropped the hint during the presentation of his  committee’s report before the Senate Committee on Appropriations in Abuja, said that the ministry was queried last year for similar anomaly.
Senator Ekweremadu expressed dissatisfaction that similar amount of about N6billion was included in 2021 budget, but the Ministry of Environment was queried by the committee, only for it be brought back in the next year’s budget, this time to the tune of N16 billion.
He said: “Last year as I said, there was N6billion in the environment budget for the servicing of a multilateral loan regarding to erosion control.
“Regrettably, about N1.5 billion of it was released to environment and later the Ministry of Finance wrote, saying it was a mistake that that was supposed to be from the service wide vote from where it used to service most of the loans.
“So, we took it in good faith, but surprisingly we now got another N16 billion for the same reason from the Ministry of Environment and because there was a directive from the leadership of the National Assembly that we should not tamper with monies provided for multilateral loan.
“But we decided to find out what it is all about, eventually we invited the ministry (of Finance) which now said that by the time they got their envelope, the money they sent to Ministries to distribute to agencies.
“There was no such amount so by the time the money came to National Assembly, there was this N16 billion for the servicing of the new map loan. We asked when this money is due for servicing, they said there has a 10 year monetarium, we can’t be providing for it until 2023.
“We also found out that about 21 states are benefiting from it and it is these states that will pay the loan and not the federal government. So, It is either we wait until 2023 before making provisions for it or we ask the states to start making provisions for it if they have to pay now.
“Even if the federal government has to pay, it has to go through the service wide votes not the respective budgets of the MDAs, it’s wrong. The anomaly is untidy.”
The former Deputy Senate President, however, urged the Committee on Appropriations to write to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to find ways of retrieving the N16 billion.
Fielding questions from newsmen after appearing before the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Ekweremadu who failed to mention the states that collected the loan, said he forsees a grand plot to defraud the federal government.
He expressed confidence that the Senate Committee on Appropriations would get to the root of the matter and handle the case in the best interest of Nigerians.
Also speaking on the effort to control desertification, he said about 692 million trees are to be planted in 11 states of the North to check desertification in the region.
Senator Ekweremadu explained further that the trees planting would be funded by the Great Green Wall initiative.
He stressed that the initiative has no time frame attached to it, noting that the idea was aimed at addressing issues associated with desertification in the country.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin Barau expressed satisfaction with the report and commended the Committee on Environment for a job well done.
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