The Senate on Tuesday subjected Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, to intense questioning over poor revenues generated from the culture and entertainment industry.

At a budget defence session with the minister and other officials of the ministry, the Senate committee on Culture and Tourism declared that it was unfortunate that the ministry presented only N620,000 as total revenue generated in 2016.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, noted that the budget should not only be about expenditure but also about revenue profile.

He said the Senate was displeased with the paltry revenue.

Senator Urhoghide said: “Budget is not just about expenditure. No one is talking about revenue. We need revenue profile. Each time you come, only expenditure is mentioned. How can you say is N620,000.00 that was raised by your ministry from the culture sector?

“We must exhaust all the avenues to generate funds internally. We seriously frown at the low and poor IGR. We query it. You must look inward because this is not acceptable.”

Senator Urhoghide who also queried the Minister for misdirecting the appropriated funds for land acquisition said that in 2016, the Senate appropriated the sum of N60,000,000 to acquire lands in Lagos, Adamawa and Edo States states for the establishment of cultural industries.

He said the Minister, instead, used the released money to acquire lands in Lagos and Adamawa, leaving Edo State, just as he said that the initial budget was to accommodate six states but reduced to three. He added that instead of the three, the Minister went to two states.

But Mohammad on his own part attributed the problem of proper and full implementation of the budget to inadequate appropriation as well as the delay in the release of funds. He also listed the cumbersome nature of procurement process as another reason.

According to him, there was also the challenge of partial release of appropriated amount, just as he called for the placement of culture and tourism on the residual list.

He said the current structure makes it difficult for the government to regulate the sector, adding that there was also the lack of political will to develop the sector, as well as the absence of ‘convention bureau’ to attract big-time events to Nigeria as a tourism destination.

He said: “There are several challenges/constraints militating against the smooth implementation of the required programmes/projects. Some of these are inadequate appropriation; delay in the release of funds; cumbersome nature of procurement process; partial release of appropriated amount; late passage of Appropriation Act; placement of culture and tourism on the residual list, which has made it difficult to regulate the sector; lack of political will to develop the sector and absence of convention bureau to attract big-time events to Nigeria as a tourism destination.