The fact that senators pointed out several duplications in the budget of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, was not the worst part of the budget defence session attended by the Minister of State, Mustapha Baba Shehuri and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Louis Edozie.
What was worse was how utterly unprepared and incompetent, Shehuri proved himself at the session. The minister had neither studied nor prepared himself for the senators’ interrogation and it showed.
Unable to satisfactorily respond to questions thrown at him by the lawmakers, Shehuri kept asking the committee to allow the Permanent Secretary, Edozie, respond on his behalf.
His request was rejected by senators.
“You were sent here to represent the Minister. It means you are here to respond to our questions. Last week, we invited the Permanent Secretary to respond. Today, it is your turn,” said Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe the Chairman of the Power committee in the senate.
“My colleagues asked me how come you are the person here and not Minister Fashola. But I told them since you were also a Minister, you could be here to on behalf of your Minister.”
Asked why the substantive Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, did not show up for the budget defence, Shahuru, said that Fashola was attending to other state matters.
Speaking on Fashola’s absence Abaribe said: “Maybe Fashola decided to snub us because of some media reports last week. But he ought not to have been angry by that. I am sure that was why he sent you because he did not want to come here.
“I said it that it was deliberate that Fashola did not show up. What we need to scrutinise the budget was not provided. We needed something to make the process easy. Nobody is satisfied with these vague items. We are going to adjourn this meeting, pending when we will get these submissions from you.
“We are asking you to inform the Minister to be here to properly respond to all the questions we need to ask. We will do a comprehensive letter asking for explanation on items where we have raised questions. That will guide you in giving your submissions. We need you to be prepared when next you come.”