The Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, on Thursday, 27th February, 2014, defended the Institute’s budget performance for Year 2013 before the nation’s highest law-making body, The Senate, at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Presenting before members of the Senate Committee on Culture & Tourism, chaired by Senator Ahmed Hassan Barata, details of the income and expenditure profile of the Institute in 2013, Ayakoroma decried the paltry provision in NICO’s capital budget, which, he said, affected Institute’s programmes and activities scheduled for last year.
“Let me quickly mention that because of the very little provision in the capital budget, most of our programmes had been affected, even our research works have been affected though we had tried our best to ensure that our regular programmes are going on as scheduled,” he said.
Continuing, the ES stated: “We are faced with the envelop system; so, whatever is provided is what we are made to account for and it is quite unfortunate that even the little that was provided in the capital budget last year, out of the paltry sum, only about 77 per cent was released.”
Ayakoroma, however, said despite the numerous challenges faced by the Institute as a result of inadequate budgetary provisions, the NICO Training School has continued to operate fully as well as the Institute’s workshop series but lamented that the frequency with which NICO is supposed to package such programmes has not been realized.
He intimated the committee members on the state of the NICO Training School complex in Kuje, saying, “Almost all the buildings are completed except that there is no access road which is our major challenge and we are still trying to see how the Federal Capital Territory Administration can wade in through their Satellite Areas Development programme to construct the access road linking us to the outside world so that the complex could be put into full use.”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ahmed Hassan Barata had expressed regret that the envelop system adopted by government in the release of budgetary allocations to MDAs was grossly inadequate, stating that with the system, it will be very difficult for the ministry and its parastatals to perform effectively.
Barata, who said the Culture and Tourism Ministry has much work to do in terms of giving Nigerians the needed orientation, information and enlightenment, maintained that it is in doing so that the country can indeed experience the much needed peace.
“The ministry plays a fundamental role when talking about norms; yet the unfortunate thing is that we are not propagating our programmes well. We feel bad that the envelop given to you is small and inadequate; but you really have to do an extra work by involving the media to hype the activities of the ministry and its parastatals so that the people will know and understand what you are doing.”
However, the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Nkechi Ejele, at the budget defence because of the exigency of his job, was refused hearing by the committee members, saying he has to personally brief the committee on the ministry’s 2013 budget performance as well as defend its 2014 budget on Tuesday, 4th February.
The National Council for Arts and Culture under the leadership of Mr. M.M. Maidugu was another parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture that defended its budget before the committee, which had Senators Ahmed Hassan Barata, Hosea Agboola, Babafemi Ojudu, and Abubakar Umar Tutare sitting.
The ES was accompanied the Director of Finance and Accounts, Mr. Godson Ordu, Acting Director, Office of the Executive Secretary, Mr. Nelson Campbell, and Acting Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Alex Omijie alongside other support staff in the office of the Executive Secretary.