The Senate Committee on Sports yesterday threatened to award zero allocation to the Federal Ministry of Sports/ National Sports Commission (NSC) following repeated failure of the Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, to appear before the committee for almost three years.
The committee therefore gave Abdullahi the last option of appearing before the committee next Tuesday or risk total non-appropriation of budget for his ministry this sport year.
While issuing the threat yesterday, Chairman of Senate Committee on Sports and Social Development, Senator Adamu Gumba, rejected moves to present the ministry’s budget before the committee by the Director General of the NSC, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, insisting that the committee would not consider the budget unless the minister was physically present. Gumba who was visibly offended by Abdullahi’s perceived intention to continuously treat the committee with disdain, said it was high time the minister was called to order.
“For close to three years now, the sports minister has never appeared before this committee either for budget defence or for any other hearing relating to sports development in the country. Though your submission on why the minister is not here may sound logical but to us, it has been the habit of the minister not to appear before us. We are not going to listen to any budget presentation from your commission which is even the major responsibility of the minister of sports.
“You said after leaving Ilorin yesterday (Monday) afternoon, he had gone to Poland for the Indoor Sports Championship which to him is more important than the entire budget of his ministry and parastatals under him for the Year 2014. He must be here. We are not going to take any budgetary submission from any agency under the ministry without the presence of Bolaji Abdullahi to tell him that we cannot be looked down upon,” Gumba threatened.
But Elegbeleye, in earlier defence of the minister, said even though he was not aware of Abdullahi’s previous absence, he was sure that the minister was not aware of yesterday’s meeting with the committee. According to him, the committee’s invitation letter to the meeting, got to both the ministry and the commission last Friday, a day after he said Abdullahi had already left for Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, in preparation for Monday’s visit to the state by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He added that he had to travel to Poland the same Monday night. The committee, however, refused to be persuaded by Elegbeleye’s explanation, insisting that travelling to Poland for a tournament could not have been more important than the defence of his ministry’s budget.