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Sirika NAir

Come personally to defend your budget or forget 2019, Reps tell Minister

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House of Representatives Committee on Aviation Tuesday read riot act to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika that his ministry’s 2019 budget may not see the light of the day if he fails to come personally to answer questions only him can answer.

Chairman of the committee, Ms. Nkiru Onyejeocha (PDP-Abia), issued the threat at a meeting on the 2018 budget performance with the committee, which the Chief Executives did not attend, but sent representatives.

Industry observers say the minister may be avoiding the appearance to run away from questions that may border on the wasted funds on the botched Nigeria Air dream which he masterminded at London Air Show few months ago.

However, explaining more, Onyejeocha said that the committee was not happy with the ministry and all its agencies for always making excuses not to interface with the committee.

According to her, their excuses are either about one director-general who is not in the country or about the other that has traveled out.

“We cannot ask questions and get a reply. The budget implementation is zero, to the best of our knowledge, and as far as we are concerned.

“If they do not take time, they will not have 2019 budget. We have sent referrals and consultants to the ministry, but they refused to comply,” she said.

The rep said that when the house adjourned for oversight, the committee contacted the ministry and its agencies but it was either the minister was not around or one chief executive or the other was not around.

“Today, we the members of the committee are saying no, you cannot take this committee for a ride.

“We give them not less than 48 hours to appear before the committee, it must happen, and if it does not, you people must appear on the floor of the house.

“We are not here to play politics; we would just collect these documents; our hands are tied; the committees hands are tied; the house of reps hands are tied; after this session, we may issue summons for them to appear before the house,” she added.

In his comments, Rep. Dagomie Abiante (PDP-Rivers) said the ministry and the various parastatals under it had become very evasive to be accountable to Nigerians, stressing that “if we begin to interrogate the documents, you will hear replies like “I am not the director-general or minister and so I cannot talk on the matter”.

Abiante said that the meeting was a waste of precious time as no parastatal had its chief executive present to answer questions.

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