The Senate Committee on Works has threatened to remove the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, from the federal budget for allegedly being used as a conduit pipe for government funds to be siphoned.
Similarly, the committee, chaired by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP Kebbi Central), vowed to give the professional body zero allocation in the 2023 fiscal year.
Trouble started on Wednesday when the Registrar of COREN, Engineer. Ademola Bello, was asked to defend how the 2022 budget allocation was utilised as well as the achievements of the body in the year under review, but failed.
Bello had told the committee that his organization is tackling the menace of incessant building collapse across the country and that investigations conducted so far, including that of 21-storey building in Lekki, Lagos State have shown that some COREN members are culpable and the names of those involved in professional misconduct would soon be forwarded to the Inspector General of Police for prosecution.
He also explained that COREN was given a sum of N2.4 billion for 2022 fiscal year while N1.2 billion was spent to organise its annual conference.
According to him, the personnel cost in 2023 budget was increased by N200 million because COREN is planning to have its offices in 36 states of the federation.
When asked by Senator Aliero on how much COREN remitted to the federation account, he said N45 million.
The lawmakers were not happy about the poor remittance and the COREN officials were later directed to produce evidence of remittance to the federation accounts among others.
However, a member of the committee, Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East), said there is no justification to continue to place COREN under the federal budget as it can stand alone as a professional body like the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) and the Nigeria Medical Association, (NMA), among other professional bodies.
“How can COREN spend about N1.2 billion on annual conferences and remit just N45 million into the federation accounts? Government is in need of money to provide infrastructures to Nigerians. COREN should be made to stand as a professional body and stay out of money from the government,” Senator Sekibo submitted.
The Chairman of the committee, therefore, suspended further consideration of COREN’s budget and directed its Registrar to provide evidence of remittance to the federation accounts.