Why Tinubu should return N500bn converted for palliatives – CSO

A Civil Society Organisation on the platform of Good Governance Movement (GGM), has urged President Bola Tinubu to amend the 2023 supplementary budget awaiting approval of the National Assembly by inserting the N500 billion taken from the last supplementary budget for disbursement as palliatives.

The President had, on assumption of office, sought and got the approval of the national assembly to use N500billion from the 2022 supplementary budget as palliatives payments to cushion the impact of the fuel subsidy removal 

Addressing newsmen, Wednesday in Abuja, Coordinator of the rights group, Terhila James Lorguruum, said  capturing the N500billion in the 2023 supplementary budget was necessary since even the president pledged to provide that so as to make funds available for payment of contractors handling work on critical infrastructure destroyed by the 2022 floods.

He said work on some of the roads and bridges’ projects, awarded to indigenous contractors following the 2022 flood disaster, had been halted owing to lack of payment.

He recalled that in 2022, the federal government approved a supplementary budget of N819bn out of which N705bn was allocated to the federal ministry of works and housing to among other things, repair critical infrastructure damaged by the flood disaster.

“However, sometime this year, President Tinubu sought and got the approval of the national assembly to use N500billion for palliative and this affected payment to contractors handling the works.

“One expects that the rational thing for the president to do is to earmark money in the present supplementary budget to cater for payment due to these contractors so the work can go on seamlessly.

“Rather than do that, the government was silent on payment for these contractors only for it to allocate N300billion for award of new contracts to repair bridges and construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads across the country,” Lorguruum added.

The CSO tasked the president to ensure necessary measures are taken including payment to the contractors, so that the projects will be completed and noted that awarding new contracts while old ones were abandoned was counterproductive.

The group also tasked the minister of Works, David Umahi to use his experience as a versatile Engineer in ensuring that funds are made available to ensure completion of all contracts awarded following the 2022 flood disasters.

According to the CSO, awarding new contracts when the old ones have not be completed due to non-payment is counterproductive and could only amount to more wastages for the nation.

While urging the lawmakers to put the love of country and fear of God above every other considerations, the CSO appealed to the lawmakers to insist on having a provision for  N500billion to guarantee prompt payment of the contractors.