By Samson Echenim
The House of Representatives and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) are currently on each other’s neck over alleged padding of the agency’s 2017 to 2020 budgets to the tune of N4 billion.
The House Committee on Waterways had alleged that NIWA’s 2020 budget was padded with over N1.5 billion appropriated for various equipment for dredging and other coastal activities relating to the agency’s functions, same equipment for which over N2.2 billion was budgeted between 2017 and 2019. The lawmakers observed that N1.5 billion was also proposed in NIWA’s 2020 budget for same equipment and items.
However, NIWA has denied the allegation, maintaining that the agency did not manipulate its 2020 budget.
The lawmakers observed that N2.2 billion was appropriated for the project in 2018 and an additional N1 billion in 2019, querying why the project should attract a new budget proposal of N1.5 billion.
Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, deputy chairman, House Committee on Waterways, who spoke to journalists after the session, frowned on the various alleged infractions discovered in the successive budgets, while calling for a thorough investigation into the funds expended on the projects.
Reacting to the allegation, NIWA on Tuesday issued a rejoinder denying the allegations.
In the statement by Tayo Fadile, NIWA’s spokesman, the authority said, “Our attention has been drawn to various publications including electronic and online social media platforms, alleging that NIWA was involved in N4 billion worth of fraudulent/non-existing projects. This is not true and does not reflect the position of the House Committee on Inland Waterways of the National Assembly.”
NIWA said the National Freight Office at Idi-Iroko, Ogun State on which the allegations bother, has “absolutely nothing to do with NIWA.”
“The minister of transportation, minister of state for transportation and the managing director of NIWA attended the budget defence and these allegations never arose. Finally, any further inquiry over this matter should be referred to the House Committee on Inland Waterways for further clarification,” the statement read.