An affiliate group of Nigeria’s strong petroleum and gas workers union, NUPENG, has provided what is one of the strongest support yet for powerful power, works and housing minister, Babatunde Fashola, in the ongoing face-off between him and the country’s lawmakers at the National Assembly over distortions in the ministry’s 2017 budget, recently passed by them.
Made up of tanker drivers in the petroleum and gas supply chain of the industry, Solomon Akanni Oladiti, president of the Petroleum Tankers Drivers (PTD), at its national executive council meeting in Kaduna, Saturday, said the lawmakers were in a gang up against the minister and needed to stop, saying that PTD was watching as events unfold and would act to stop what it called the drift.
“As members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers’ Branch of NUPENG, we are watching events as they unfold and we are determined to arrest the drift.
“We shall do all that is lawfully allowed to ensure that the illegality being cooked against Fashola and the efforts of the government at making life more comfortable for Nigerians in general, is resisted.
“Members of the National Assembly are therefore advised to allow national interest blossom against the parochial interest they are trying to dress up in the garb of nationalism.
“We recall that the Minister had recently expressed his frustration over the manner in which the legislative arm of government altered the budget after putting members of the Executive through Budget Defence Sessions and Committee Hearings.”
“Fashola specifically listed the Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, the Bodo-Bonny road, the Kano-Maiduguri road, the Second Niger Bridge and the Mambilla Hydropower Project among others as those that the National Assembly materially altered the allocations in favour of scores of boreholes and primary health care centers which were never discussed during the Ministerial Budget Defence before Parliament.
‘We recall that the Minister made other startling revelations: that the budget of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced by the National Assembly from N31 billion to N10 billion while the budgetary provision for the 2nd Niger bridge was reduced from N15 billion to N10 billion, to accommodate, the legislators preference of boreholes and primary health centers.
“At this critical time when Nigerians are groaning under epileptic power supply and we believe, all hands must be on deck to salvage the embarrassing situation, it is disheartening and condemnable that the lawmakers have unjustifiably decided to cut the budget for Mambila power project,” he said.