There was a shouting match among members of the House of Representatives Committee supervising the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) during the resumed hearing of the budget defence of the agency, forcing the session to an abrupt end.
It was gathered while some members of the Committee were favourably disposed to approving the 2020 budget performance report of the agency and the 2021 estimates, others were against it, insisting on proper scrutiny of the document.
The Managing Director of FERMA, Nurudeen Rafindadi, had appeared before the committee when it was alleged that the agency’s budget had been mysteriously increased by N11bn.
A member of the committee, Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau) had asked the FERMA boss why the agency’s budget was suddenly increased by over N11bn after passing through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
While disowning the increase, Rafindadi had said what was proposed by FERMA for 2021 was different from what is presently before the National Assembly.
The Committee was silent on the N11bn but it was observed while the committee invited the House Press Corps to cover the last Thursday’s session when the alleged budget padding was raised, journalists were not notified of the session on Tuesday.
However, during Tuesday sitting, a member of the Committee, Hon. Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) was said to have protested hurried adoption of the 2020 performance report of the agency and approval of its 2021 budget proposal, a development that did not go down well with Gagdi, who allegedly insisted the panel should go ahead with the approval.
A member of the committee, who was part of the sitting, told journalists that Salam was particularly miffed by the fact FERMA did not propose any project for Osun in the proposal for 2021.
When contacted, the Osun lawmaker confirmed protesting at the hearing over exclusion of his state from FERMA projects list, while faulting being prevented from expressing his grievances at the meeting.
Salam said: “The first thing that I noticed was that there was an attempt to rush the passage of the budget and prevent those of us who had observations from doing so.