Barely 24 hours after receiving a formal request from President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate on Thursday, began consideration of the N232,875,365,947 Appropriation Bill proposed for the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in the 2020 fiscal year.
The Bill was subsequently referred by Senate President Ahmad Lawan to the Committee on FCT for further legislative work.
A breakdown of the bill by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, showed that N53.876bn or 22. 7% is earmarked for personnel cost; and N57.070bn, representing 24.5% is proposed for overhead cost; leaving N121.928bn or 52.35% for capital projects.
He recalled that in the 2019 fiscal year, the FCT Administration received N243.374bn as statutory budget, comprising N41.999bn, or 17.25% spent on personnel costs; N32.445bn, or 13.33% on overheads; and N46.292bn on capital projects.
The Senate Leader noted that in 2019 also, a total sum of N120.737bn accrued to the FCT as revenue, representing “about 50% level of performance.”
The thrust of the FCT 2020 budget, he continued, “is to ensure an effective service-oriented administration in order to ensure completion of ongoing projects and the provision of effective services to residents of the FCT.”
Among projects to be implemented by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in the year 2020 are provision of infrastructural facilities to districts and road construction in Jahi, Wuye, and Karmo with the sum of N6.3bn; reconstruction and finalization of Lower Usman Dam and Gurara Road pegged at N1.5bn and N3.5bn for proposed counterpart funding for Greater Abuja Water Supply.
Others are construction of Cultural Centre and Millennium Tower at N1 billion; rehabilitation and expansion of Outer Southern Expressway from Villa Roundabout to Osex/Ring Road 1 Junction at N1 billion; N1.3 billion for completion of Roads B6, B12 and Circle Road, Abuja, Central Area, and N500 million for the provision of access road to Kabusa Garden.
Senators who contributed to the debate threw their weights behind the approval of the sum budgeted for the FCT in the 2020 fiscal year.
However, others like George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East) and James Manager (PDP, Delta South) argued that the FCT budget be presented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to the National Assembly.
Responding, the Senate President explained that going that path would run contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which allows only a sitting President to present the country’s annual budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.
Lawan also called on the FCT administration to improve on revenue generation so as to be able to deliver on projects needed to further develop the FCT, urging Committee on FCT to invite the Minister, Muhammad Bello, to review the performance of the FCTA in the 2019 fiscal year.
“On the performance of the previous year, I think our Committee on FCT will be there to represent us.
“I can’t imagine the Committee inviting the FCT Administration, the Minister and his people and not ask for a review of the performance of the Budget 2019.
“I believe when they (Committee) report to us, they should tell us what happened, including the area of revenue generation.
“On the FCT Minister coming to present the budget, I don’t know the constitutional details, but I think that is not the only thing that we do differently.
“The laws that were passed with respect to FCT were never presented to us by FCT. What we know State Governors do is they sign the bills to State Houses of Assembly. Our bills come through the Federal Executive Council even if they are directly linked to the FCT.
“I think that is the spirit through which the budget is also brought to us here. Let’s just think for a minute that we go on a joint session for the FCT Minister to address a joint session of the National Assembly, I don’t know because that is what it is going to amount to.”
On funding for security in the 2020 budget for the FCT, Lawan said, “I want to also ask whether we have so much provision in the National Priority budget of the FCT for Security.
“I’ve not seen anything for security here and I’m worried because I think the security situation in the FCT, not necessarily inside the Federal Capital itself, but the satellite towns where people are kidnapped including one of our royal fathers.
“I believe that we need to look into that, definitely the security needs some attention from us, even if there is no provision. We should be able to prioritize and see which other subheads we can take money from to provide for security.”