Please Don’t Probe Us, FCT Council Chairs Beg Reps

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Some Area Council chairmen in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) created drama last Thursday when the House of Reps Committee on Area Councils and Ancillary Matters went on oversight duties, begging not to be probed.

The chairmen of Bwari and Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, major culprits in financial impunity, appealed to the committee to overlook their shortcomings.

The chairman of Bwari, Hon. Peter Ushafa, whose account records bore many distortions, pleaded with the members, especially the All Progressive Congress (APC), member of the House not to probe further.

Ushafa claimed that most of the errors in the account records were human errors, pleading that the “mathematical errors” would be corrected.

Not too satisfied with the chairman’s response, however, Hon. Ibrahim Ebboh said: “Mr. Chairman, we are disappointed in your submissions because you are not a new person in this business. This is your second term in office. I want to advise you to be more careful with public records. I am afraid if APC eventually takes over government, some of these mistakes of yours will land you in jail. “To the best of my knowledge, this is a disjointed account and nobody will take you serious with this presentation,” the lawmaker warned.

Similarly, the committee was dissatisfied with the financial records of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), in the performance of 2013 budget, even as members queried the huge sum of N80 million spent in the procurement of diesel for the council.

The chairmen, speaking on the poor performance of their administrations in project execution and delivery like other councils visited put the blame on the statutory deductions by the FCT Administration in areas of health, education, pension, and SURE-P, noting that though the deductions were constitutional, there were placing heavy burden on their performances.

In Bwari, the chairman of the council told members that one of the challenges faced by the council has to do with the high influx of people in the area, stressing that most of the infrastructures were overstretched.

In his reaction, chairman of the committee, Hon. Ibrahim Ebboh, observed that with a budget of N3.9 billion in the 2013 budget, the council ought to perform better but expressed worry that the budget’s performance of 16 per cent in both personnel cost and capital projects of the council was ‘very poor.’

According to him: “By the year 2013, about N3.9 billion was appropriated to Bwari Area Council and members are interested to know how the fund was expended. But before I throw the floor open to my colleagues, I want to express my worry over the low performance of your personnel cost and capital projects which in your own submission is put at 16 per cent considering the fact that we are in the last quarter of the year.”

Other grey areas observed by committee members include the construction of Madaki Road at the cost of N58 million, award of contracts in unspecified manner and the poor revenue generation of the council.

When other committee members noticed the state of helplessness on the part of the council boss, he was asked to go and sin no more.

However, the situation in the Abuja Municipal Area Council was not different when committee members visited the council.

Members noted that N4.7 billion was appropriated for AMAC in the 2013 budget, noting that the expenditure of the council would be taken into serious consideration in view of the centrality of the council.

In page-to-page analysis of the budget performance, members frowned at the huge amount spent on the procurement of diesel at the cost of N80 million and over N200 million spent on the control of communicable diseases in the council.

They equally observed that the revenue generation was not reflected in the budget submission of the council, while contracts are awarded without specification.

Landscaping and fencing of a primary healthcare center at Gida Mango was found to have gulped N32 million and construction of a triple culvert at the cost of N51.1 million could not be justified by the council Director of Works.