The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, queried the Federal Fire Service over N60 million increase in recurrent expenditure for the 2019 Budget.
The development occurred when the acting Controller General (C.G.), Federal Fire Service, Mr Liman Ibrahim, appeared before the House Committee on Interior for 2019 Budget defence at the National Assembly, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the service proposed N473.9 million for recurrent cost in a total budget proposal of N9.4 billion for the 2019 fiscal year.
NAN also reports that N413.5 million was appropriated for recurrent expenditure in 2018 while N343.5 million was released and the service utilised the N343.5 released.
A member of the committee, Rep Shehu Musa (APC-Bauchi), who questioned the N60 million budget increase for recurrent cost, described it as significant.
“I have a question which is on page 18 of the budget document where you have your recurrent cost for 2019.
“In the recurrent expenditure, I noticed that it jerked from N413 million as at 2018 to N473 million as at 2019 which means there is a significant increase of N60 million.
“So I want to know whether the C.G. has a plan of widening his scope by establishing more stations, more outfits, having more responsibilities because this is what it implies.
“So I really want to know what you want to do with the money’’,he said.
Also speaking, Rep Linda Chuba-Ikpeazu (PDP-Anambra) said it was disheartening that Onitsha as a city had no fire fighting station.
According to her, most of the time, we get help from Asaba, Delta, when fire outbreak occurs.
“We don’t have a working fire fighting station in an important city as Onticha, the commercial city that is heavily populated.
“We have to wait for help from Asaba, a different state and we have written to your office to address that issue. Lives and property are lost every time,” she said.
Responding the acting C.G., Federal Fire Service, Ibrahim, said the increase was as result of the order by the service for 44 fire fighting trucks.
“And by the time they arrive in the country, we are going to open additional fire stations in the zones. Presently, we have stations in six zones and we want to increase the number to 12 zones.
“So with more stations, we need additional hands. So those are the three reasons for the increase,” he said.
On the Onitcha issue, he said though each state in the federation has its own fire service, the Federal Fire Service has zonal offices at each geopolitical zone.
“We, in the zones, are to compliment the efforts of the state fire services. I am sure Onitcha falls under Anambra.
“We gave Anambra zonal office and they abandoned us and we have to move to Enugu. So presently, our zonal office is in Enugu,” he remarked.
Ibrahim, however, promised to engage the director of Anambra Fire Service to see what could be done to ameliorate the challenges.
“Such international market supposed to have what we called fire post and fire trucks.
“If it is not supplied by the state government, the market association should buy.
“We intervened in Sabongari Market. If you go to Sabongari Market today you will see it is a different place,” he said.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep Adams Jagaba (PDP-Kaduna), who said that Onitsha needed to be given serious attention, urged the organisation to give more details to the budget proposal. (NAN)
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