The House of Representatives, on Monday, insisted it did not remove the Lagos-Calabar rail project from the 2016 budget, accusing the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, of an attempt to pad the appropriation bill.
Addressing journalists, the House spokesperson, Abdulrazak Namdas, said there was no project as Lagos-Calabar rail project in the budget proposed by the executive. He said it was Mr. Amaechi who “brought” the project.
However, he argued only the president that could propose a project for inclusion in the budget.
“The item was brought for inclusion in the budget by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, but was not included in the budget because only the president is allowed to present the budget before the National Assembly,” Mr. Namdas said.
“The media is awash with story that the National Assembly has removed the Calabar- Lagos railway project from the budget.
“I want to make it very clear that we don’t have that in the presentation made by the President to the National Assembly, so we couldn’t have removed what was not even inserted in the first place.
“It was the Minister of Transport that brought the Calabar- Lagos railway to be included in the budget.
“We want to state clearly that the budget is something that is proposed by the president; we do not receive budget from minister.
“So, for somebody to say we actually removed the Calabar-Lagos railway project from the budget, I think someone is trying to spoil our good image.
“We want to state again that all that was sent to the National Assembly from the supplementary budget and others had a smooth sail, and it is on record that some people lost their job because of this budget.”
He said the National Assembly had not received any notice that the president will not assent the budget over allegations of missing projects.
He said the president could still notify the National Assembly if there’s any item he would want to be included in the budget and assured of the legislature’s cooperation.
Earlier on Monday, Chairman Senate Committee on Land, Gbenga Ashafa, had said though the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not included in the original project, it was submitted as Ministry of Transport’s supplementary proposal.
Mr. Ashafa said his committee therefore approved the project and passed it to Appropriations Committee chaired by Danjuma Goje.
He expressed surprise the project was, however, not included in the final draft by the Appropriations Committee.
Efforts to get Mr. Goje’s reaction to Mr. Ashafa’s claim were unsuccessful.