From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday, rebuked committee chairman on Customs, Francis Alimikhena for not putting the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on proper check through thorough oversight.
Angered by an attempt by the vice chairman, Francis Fadaunsi, to commend the committee, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, ordered him to take his seat.
The Senate noted that the National Assembly’s thorough oversight was necessary on a revenue generating agency like the NCS.
The rebuke came when Alimikhena presented a report on the N257 billion 2021 budget for the NCS. Conveying the Senate’s warning to Alimikhena-led committee, Lawan stated: “Well, Chairman, I think you need to upscale your oversight on the customs, because this narratives that they will keep money they will not do budget implementation is as a result of insufficient oversight.
“So we need to know this kind of things in good time, that you report back to the Senate on what is happening and you also advise them on what is appropriate and legal as far as the implementation of the budget is concerned. We are not supposed to be hearing this now, so increase your oversight.”
During the consideration of the budget report, senators took turns to point out what they called bogus and illegal votes in the proposed budget for the NCS.
Sam Egwu, objected to the N2 billion vote for welfare packages for retiring NCS officers in addition to their normal and legal retirement benefits.
Bala Ibn Na’Allah, expressed shock that the sum of N200 million could be voted for a non functional air craft belonging to the NCS.
He said it is even more strange that another N100 million was voted for fuelling the same aircraft. Na’Allah also queried the N180m that has been voted for fumigation. “what are you fumigation? he asked
When given the opportunity to respond to the issues raised, Alimikhena explained that the N2 billion was not restricted to officers but all the ranks of the NCS.
However, the Senate said it approved the NCS 2021 budget on the condition that that its committee would improve on its oversight.
The NCS Revenue target was increased from N1,465,345,719,428.00 to N1, 678, 715, 061, 014.00
The budget of the NCS include personnel cost of N99,719,722,681.71, overhead Cost of N19,530,769,000.00 and capital Cost of N137,933,180,013.00.
Other items expenditure approved for the NCS which attracted criticisms from Senators include N15.9 billion for motor vehicles, N3.278 billion for hazard allowance, N1.45 billion for maintenance services, N5.8 billion for boats, N2 billion for uniform store, N500 million for legal services, N465million for other services, 200 million for teaching, investigation and book allowance, N200 million for maintenance of aircraft and N100 million for sporting activities.
Others are N90 million for refreshment and meals, N30 million for honorarium and sitting allowance, N30 million for research, N27 million for corpers’ allowance and N5 million for newspapers, among others.