“Out of the N360 billion that was allocated to us, we rolled over N80 billion, so we spent about N280 billion.”
The Federal government has said it spent about N280 billion under the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, between 2102 and 2014.
The SURE-P also rolled over about N80 billion to 2014 which it says it is committing into various intervention projects, under the 2014 fiscal year.
This was disclosed by the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, and member of the SURE-P Committee, Sam Ohuanbuwa, at the Presidential Villa on Monday, while fielding questions from journalists after meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
“In two years of our existence, we have spent less than N300 billion,” he said. “Out of the N360 billion that was allocated to us, we rolled over N80 billion, so we spent about N280 billion.”
Mr. Ohuanbuwa, who is also the President of Nigeria-American Chambers of Commerce, stated that the SURE-P expended part of the money on the East-West road and other projects in which the agency intervened.
“That is what we used to get the East West road to where it is, the rail line running from Kano to Lagos, and all the works that have been done,” he said.
He further called for the total withdrawal of petroleum subsidy by the federal government to allow government enough resources to prosecute its intervention programmes especially in the areas of infrastructural development.
“So you can imagine if the over N1 trillion that was spent on subsidy is released for this kind of work. Nigeria will get the best of services” he said.
The Chairman of the SURE-P, Martin Agwai, while also speaking on the achievements of the programme, reiterated that SURE-P’s achievements are everywhere and verifiable by the public.
According him, ” We have sank over 620 boreholes to give our mothers good health, good pipe born water and we are also providing health medications and Mama kits for expectant mothers. From the reports we have had on the contributions of SURE P, Maternal Health Care, MCH, under SURE P, we have been able to reduce by almost 60 per cent the number of deaths due to child births. Now we have over half a million women giving birth under professionally organized midwives which was not the case in the past.”
“You just have to go out there and see the facts which are very close to us; including the Abuja-Lokoja road. If you know how that road was before we came in, in 2012 and you know how it is now, we hope that by the end of this year, we will now know how much we have done.”
He said SURE-P has been able “to upgrade 500 centres and we are working now on another 700 health centres.”
Speaking further on the amount spent by the agency in 2013, Mr. Agwai, a retired army general, noted that the agency rolled over N90 billion in 2012 due to late commencement of the SURE-P programme in that year.
SURE-P was commenced weeks after the government partially removed subsidy on petrol, thus increasing the pump price to N97 per litre from N65 per litre. The announcement for full subsidy removal was made on January 1; but was turned to partial after nationwide protest.
“Remember that we started late in 2012 and so I do not have the entire figures. We had to roll over N90 billion which we could not utilize because we started late. In 2013, we had over N88 billion which we rolled over into 2014”
He, however, revealed that the agency’s policy this year is to have zero budget roll over.
“We have already set up the machinery and we are working and have restructured our operation into sub-committees. We have worked on the lessons learned in the past two years and we are in top gear to deliver and I want to assure Nigerians that in this year, they will see remarkable change and we will deliver these services with integrity and credibility” he said.
On the oversight function by the National Assembly, he noted that SURE-P has submitted itself for auditing as it has nothing to hide.
“We are working for Nigerians and the lawmakers are Nigerians. We have nothing to hide. They are representing Nigerians and we are working for Nigeria,” he said.
“We have also asked Nigerians if there are areas they found that there are challenges or more information for us to intervene or to perform better in, they should come forward to tell us. We are very open and our objective is to serve Nigeria,” he said.
On why the agency rolls over project funds to subsequent years, he said it was to ensure transparency in the execution of SURE-P projects.
“You see, we roll over money not because we wanted to do that,” he said. “We would have easily disposed of the money if we were careless. But we have credibility that is why we have guidelines.”