How did N120 million get to be set aside for the fencing and interlocking of mosques in Kano State under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology budget this year?
Are these projects in any way related to claims earlier made by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, that the National Assembly injected into the 2017 budget strange projects other than those proposed by relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies?
If so, how many of such projects are in the Appropriation Act being executed by the federal government?.
These are the questions worried observers are seeking answers to.
Checks on the appropriation list for the 2017 as it concerns the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology showed that the 28th item of the 36 listed items as projects to be executed by the Ministry is titled Fencing/interlocking of ID’ EL MOSQUE in Ajingi, Gaya and AL BASU, Kano State. This item with code number NBARR54859433 is to gulp one hundred and two million Naira (#120,000,000).
An observant professor wondered when and how building or rehabilitating a mosque became part of the responsibility of a Ministry that should be thinking on how the nation should be placed on the world map as a leader in scientific development and technological breakthrough.
Curiously, the projects are situated in the senatorial district of a principal officer of the Senate.
The professor, who does not want to be named for now said further: “Nigeria is challenged in so many areas that require scientific solutions. There is the challenge of food production for national sustenance. National security is a challenge that requires breakthrough in military soft and hardware development. Natural disasters are rife that scientific breakthroughs in predictions and mitigation of effects strategies are needed.
“Unfortunately much has not been accomplished on the core mandate of the ministry. To show such interest in fencing and interlocking prayer grounds and mosques is a clear demonstration of lack of clarity on the core mandate of the ministry by those at the helm of affairs.
“Perhaps, the Ministry thinks that we need more comfortable prayer grounds than research programs, or more prayers are required to solve intractable national problems than scientific solutions. Granted that religion is integral part of man and that it is common for man to appreciate his maker by building a worship place for him which perhaps is the intention of the ministry; but a check shows that Ajingi, Gaya and Al Basu in Kano State neither host the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology nor any of its parastatals or agencies. So what informed the interest of the ministry to fence and interlock the mosque is what needed to be explained. It is obvious that the ministry cannot claim to be discharging a social responsibility as there is no obligation whatsoever.”
He has asked for explanations on what informed the appropriation of the whooping sum for fencing and interlocking the house of worship by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
“Did the Ministry budget estimate defended by the Honorable Minister contain this item? If it did, how did Dr Ogbonnaya Onu convince the National Assembly that rehabilitation of mosques in Kano State is a priority to his ministry?
“How come the National Assembly appropriation committee was convinced that this project is a priority to this ministry in this year of economic recession?” he asked further.
He invited the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu to explain to Nigerians how his ministry’s mandate included building and rehabilitating mosques in the country.
In the same vein, he called on the Chairman of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, to explain why the strange projects for such a huge project were not queried.
“Similarly, the national assembly need to convince the nation on the propriety of this project in the ministry. Finally, the (then) Acting President that signed the budget into law must show his conviction about the necessity of this project.
He implored the presidency to demonstrate its non-culpability by withholding release for this subhead in the budget adding that Nigerians should say no to the flagrant misappropriation and misplacement of priority by a ministry that should preoccupy itself with how to take Nigeria to the moon.