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Senate committee rejects sports ministry’s budget

Director General, National Sports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye

The Senate Committee on Sports and Social Development on Tuesday walked out senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Sports led by the Director General of the National Sports Commission,  Mr. Gbenga Elegbeleye, and rejected the ministry’s 2014 budget.

The committee also ordered the sports minister, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, to appear before it, unfailingly, before next week Tuesday for the ministry’s budget consideration or “risk zero allocation” for the ministry this year.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Adamu Gumba, gave the directive during the sitting of the committee to consider the ministry’s 2014 budget defence. All efforts by Elegbeleye to persuade the committee to consider the budget presentation and defence were rebuffed by Gumba and his members.

The committee insisted that the budget would not be considered, if the minister failed to appear before them because he had no business travelling to Poland for the World Athletics Championship when he is not a coach.

They alleged that the minister had consistently avoided the committee for the past three years and wondered why he was deliberately avoiding them.

The committee Chairman said, “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.

“Although your (Elegbeleye) submission on why the minister is not here may sound logical but since 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.

“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.”

Elegbeleye in his plea on behalf of the minister had informed the committee that the minister was not aware of Tuesday’s budget defence.

He stated that the committee’s invitation letter for the meeting got to both the ministry and the commission on Friday last week, a day after Abdullahi had already left for Ilorin preparatory to the Monday visit of President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said it was after the Ilorin rally that Abdullahi travelled to Poland on Monday night.

The committee insisted that for the 2014 budget of the sports ministry and other agencies under it to be considered, Abdullahi must appear before it, and wondered why he decided to go to Poland for a tournament which he was not participating in, either as a player or a coach.

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