The Senate Committee on Sports, Tuesday summoned the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdulahi to appear before the committee by 12 noon, Tuesday next week for absenting himself from the budget defence of his ministry without any formal communication to the committee.
The committee alleged that the minister in the last three years had treated the committee with disdain by refusing to appear before it as was the tradition in other ministries to defend the budget proposal for the fiscal year.
The committee was told by the Director-General, National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye that the minister traveled to Poland Monday evening for the World indoor athletic championship and was not aware that the ministry was to defend its budget proposal Tuesday (yesterday).
But the chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Gimba said that the minister in the past three years had established the habit of not appearing to defend the budget of his ministry which he said was key in the function and running of the ministry.
Senator Gimba said that the minister did not even have the courtesy of formally informing the committee that he was not going to be around to defend the budget adding that the budget was more important than the indoor championship which the minister was neither a technical person nor a participant in the event.
While expressing disappoint over the action of the minister, he said that for three years he (Abdulahi) had avoided appearing before the committee to answer questions either on how the previous budget was spent or how the present budget would be spent and some of the problems facing the ministry.
“We insist he must be here, we are not going to take any submission until he comes,” the visibly annoyed Senator Gimba stated.
He also decried a situation where only 50 per cent of the budgetary allocation to the ministry for the 2013 fiscal year was released.
He also told the ministry to be ready to furnish the committee during next sitting why the entire premises of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna had been given out to people as shops, who gave the permission and whether FIFA would allow any competition to take place at the stadium with the present condition of it.
Senator Gimba announced that President of the Nigeria Football Federation because of the involvement of the Super Eagles in preparation to the World Cup to be hosted by Brazil this year had written a letter to the committee to notify it that he was already in Georgia for the friendly match between Nigeria and Mexico.
Senator Abdul Ningi said that this year was cardinal in the history of football to the ministry as a result of sporting events taking place and because of the importance of budgetary allocation to execute the activities, it was important that the minister and other heads of sports agencies had to appear to defend the budget.
“Your reason looks logical but when it has to do with budget, I think he has to be here,” Senator Ningi told the DG.
Earlier, the Director General of the Sports Commission had told the committee that the minister left office on Thursday last week while the letter for the budget defence came to the office on Friday at the close of work, adding that since then he was unable to communicate with the minister.