The Senate Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary), Monday discovered the N10billion hidden in the budgets of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Education which the officials could not properly explain.
The Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka, who at a budget-defence session with the Senate Committee on Education, struggled without success when confronted with questions on how the personnel budget for agencies under the Ministry was hiked from N88,199,311,758 billion in 2015 to N98, 181,570,237 billion in 2016 budget document.
Chief Whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye, who is a member of the committee had drawn the attention of other members of the committee to the fact that in 2015 personnel cost of agencies in the ministry amounted to N88,119,758 pointing out that it was increased to N98,181,570,237 in this year’s budget document.
He wondered while parastatals which were meant to support the institutions should have their personnel budget increased by such a huge volume. He therefore demanded for explanation.
“If you look at personnel cost on page 28, almost every sub-sector of the ministry lost some money except parastatals that got increase. What is special about the parastatals that they gained more than universities, colleges, polytechnics and unity schools? Why should the parastatals that are meant to serve them keep growing in personnel cost?” Adeyeye queried.
The Minister pushed the question to the Permanent Secretary who for want of expression said they would go back to look into it.
She said: “We will go back and find the aggregate of the parastatals put together so that we can look into the details and find out those that are increasing and the difference between them.”
Dissatisfied by that response, Adeyeye insisted that the Ministry must explain how a whopping sum of about N10 billion was added to the parastatals’ personnel budget at the expense of institutions which actually need budget increase.
He said: “The budget of the parastatals has N9 billion extra while others lose money. We can’t have a situation where schools are losing money and parastatals are gaining. How did parastatals have such a quantum leap?”
Responding again, Yemi-Esan said the reduction in personnel budgets of schools and colleges was not imposed on them. Rather, she said it was what they submitted that the Ministry collated and submitted as their personnel costs.
“They were the ones that submitted their own personnel costs. It was not imposition,” she submitted.
But both Adeyeye and the entire committee members were not convinced by the claim that a typical Nigerian institution would deliberately cut its budget by as much as N16 billion.
Therefore, the committee Chairman, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, ruled that the Permanent Secretary and the Ministry should go back to the drawing board and come up with a more sensible overhead cost.