The Senate says the Sports Ministry has evaded defending its budget before it.
The Senate Committee on Sports and Social Development has summoned the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, to appear before it next Tuesday or risk zero budget allocation in 2014.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Adamu Gumba, gave the directive in Abuja following the non-appearance of the minister to defend the ministry’s 2014 budget.
Members of the committee had unanimously rejected the efforts of Gbenga Elegbeyele, Director-General, National Sports Commission, NSC, to defend the ministry’s budget.
Mr. Elegbeyele had pleaded with the committee to consider the ministry’s budget, saying that Mr. Abdullahi was attending a sports tournament abroad.
Mr. Gumba said that the minister had consistently avoided the committee in the last three years.
“For close to three years now, the Sports Minister has never appeared before this committee either for budget defence or for any other hearing relating to sports development in the country.
“Though your submission on why the minister is not here may sound logical, but it has been the habit of the minister not to appear before us. We are not going to listen to any budget presentation from your commission which is even the major responsibility of the minister of sports.
“You said he had gone to Poland for an indoor sports athletic championship which to him is more important than the entire budget of his ministry and parastatals for 2014.
“He must be here. Why did he decide to go to Poland for a tournament he is not a participant, either as a player or coach.
“We are not going to take any budgetary submission from any agency under the ministry without the presence of Bolaji Abdullahi. So, tell him that we cannot be looked down upon,” Mr. Gumba said.
The chairman said it was not proper for the minister to embark on a foreign trip without giving any consideration to the significance of the 2014 budget to the ministry and its parastatals.
He said that the 2014 budget of the ministry and other agencies under it would only be considered when Mr. Abdullahi appeared before the committee next week.