Dr. Betta Edu Query Fellow For Omitting Humanitarian And Poverty Trust Fund.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, on Monday accused the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, of removing the proposed fund approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the 2024 budget proposal being considered by the National Assembly.
Dr. Edu disclosed this during the 2023 budget performance and 2024 budget defence held at the instance of the joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Special Duties, chaired by Senator Kaka Shehu Lawan (APC-Borno Central).
Some of the lawmakers who spoke during the budget defence, expressed grave displeasure over the failure of the Ministry to provide palliatives to the majority of Nigerians, and demanded for the full details of the N10 billion special intervention fund provided for in the 2024 budget proposal.
The lawmakers, who commended the Minister for the series of initiatives unveiled so far since assumption of office, emphasized the need for “complete break” from what transpired in the last administration which they argued “was far far below the expectations of Nigerians.”
The lawmakers also requested an explanation on why the sum of N208 billion bilateral loan provided for in the 2023 Appropriation was not provided for in the 2024 budget proposal.
While responding to some of the questions, the Minister, who did not disclose the actual amount approved by FEC, however noted that: “The Federal Executive Council has recently approved the creation of the humanitarian and poverty alleviation trust fund which was sent in as part of budget appropriation for 2024.
“Unfortunately, that was omitted which the Minister for Budget expressly apologised for that omission.
She however observed that the list of the programmes which were captured in the Ministry’s budget proposal are not just for the purpose of the budgetary allocation, “but it’s because we want you to be part of the implementation and to work with us on it.”
She argued that if the Ministry can get that budget flying for the Poverty Alleviation and Humanitarian Trust Fund, it will be able to get funding from there to address all of those programmes encapsulated in the 2024 budget proposal.
The Minister who pledged the present administration’s resolve to ensure accountability of the resources approved for the implementation of various programmes, said: “The Senate and the House of Representatives can hold us accountable for what is done as it concerns the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“We would ensure we go to the grassroot and we would ensure we go there with you, we will go there with you to implement. At least when you are on the field with us implementing, and you see what is going on and you’re sure that your people have benefited from it, then you can be the one that will preach our own gospel when we come for the next budget session.”
When asked whether the proposed budget in the 2024 budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly will be sufficient for the implementation of various projects and programmes captured in the budget, Dr. Edu said: “our budget is far from reality.
“So, we will ensure that we meet among ourselves as a joint Committee, we are also going to meet the Appropriation Committee and the leadership of the National Assembly if we are to do justice to the poor out there.
“It is either we will live to our responsibility or we are going to fail collectively. And we are not going to fail, we must ensure that Nigerians are supported through the budget system by removing this envelope as well as also supporting ministries, departments and agencies that have to do with humanitarian activities and get the Service Wide Vote.
”When asked about the update on the proposed establishment of Humanitarian hubs across the 774 Local Government Councils of the country, she explained that the national humanitarian hub is to be completed in the next three months, adding that the regional and state hubs will also be given priority eventually.