The House of Representatives has begun the investigation of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government over allocations to Zonal Intervention Programmes, popularly called constituency projects.
On Thursday, the ad hoc committee set up by the leadership of the House to investigate the actual amount released by the regime led by President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); and the administration of his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, expressed concerns over the poor accounting system adopted by the various agencies engaged so far.
The House had on December 10, 2019, resolved to probe the MDAs that failed to execute constituency projects with funds released to them, and their failure to return the funds to the national coffers.
The move was based on the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and five others.
Buhari had earlier on November 19, 2019, said there was little to show for the over N1tn budgeted for constituency projects of the National Assembly members in the last 10 years.
The President said this at the National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in Public Sector organised by the ICPC in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, where the Chairman of the commission, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, presented a report on the first phase of a constituency projects tracking initiative.
The House had condemned the ICPC for allegedly misleading Buhari into criticising the National Assembly, asking how the commission arrived at N1tn when the budgets for the constituency projects over the years were not properly funded.
Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Mr Francis Uduyok, who presided over the investigative hearing on Thursday, said, “There is the need for all the Accounting Officers of the MDAs to submit bank statements and audited accounts from 2009 to 2019 for legislative scrutiny.”
Some of the agencies grilled by the committee include the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe.
While giving an account of the activities of NEITI, the acting Executive Secretary, Ms Lilian Ekeanyanwu, who had earlier said the agency did not get cash from any of the donor agencies, reversed herself, saying the World Bank gave cash to conduct the oil and gas industry
audit in 2017/2018 when the agency had financial challenges.
In response to the issues bordering on the sums of N351m and N121m
appropriated for financial audit as captured in the agency’s report, Ekeanyanwu explained that the funds were earmarked to conduct industry audit and the consultants engaged during the exercise, in line with the template provided by the office of the Budget Office of the Federation.
The committee, however, requested all the commercial banks and CBN statements from 2009 to date by Thursday.