Promoting Good Governance.

Senate Threatens SURE-P With Zero Allocation In 2014

The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, may not be getting any allocation in the 2014 budget if it fails to give proper accounts of its 2013 allocation, the senate ad hoc committee on the initiative has threatened.

The committee issued the threat following the failure of the minister of works, Mike Onolememen, to appear before it to account for the N30 billion allocated to the ministry.

Members of the committee were kept waiting for over an hour after sending an invitation to the ministry without any feedback.

The chairman of the committee, Abdul Ningi, interpreted the incident as an attempt to undermine the committee, stressing that such an action will not be condoned.

Ningi, who is the senate deputy majority leader, said the minister’s action demonstrated “the height of nonchalance” with which political appointees approach their work and warned that immediate action would be taken if such an action was repeated.

“A minister of this government cannot refuse to appear before any committee of the National Assembly, talk less of the Senate committee that is saddled with the responsibility of unfolding a programme that is not clear to Nigerians. For us as a committee, we will not take it, we will not condone it,” he said.

He added: “If they cannot come and answer on a laudable programme such as SURE-P, then certainly, they are trying to undermine this government. They are also trying to undermine the president and the National Assembly.”

Ningi said the committee had invited the minister to give a rundown of the ministry’s activities, challenges and achievements as Nigerians were beginning to ask questions about the programme.

“And it is clear that a strong message must be sent to the President. We can refuse to appropriate a single kobo to this programme; but before we do that there are available options that can be taken in making sure that any public officer who is required by a committee must appear,” the chairman said.

He warned: “I will repeat this, this is no longer business as usual, people must be accountable and they must be responsible for their actions. Any minister who refuses to show his face, we will take the necessary legal actions against him.”