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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Reps Want Account of N5Bn Contingency Fund

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker, House of Representatives
House of Representatives said that some N4.9 billion from the contingency fund of federal government by the Budget Office of the Federation is misused and is seeking for explanations from the government at the centre.
Contingency fund is a fund for an emergency or unexpected outflow, mainly economic crises but how the federal government spent some N4.9 billion remains a mystery.
Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, chairman, Committee on Public Accounts Tuesday, said that the beneficiaries of the contingency fund would be summoned to explain how they spent it
The matter came up before his Committee investigated the report of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the disbursement of money from the Fund.
Olamilekan’s committee threatened to recommend the scrapping of the Service Wide Votes in a bid to halt “the inexcusable expenditure that the contingency fund has become.”
A breakdown of the expenditure the committee queried showed that N1.2 billion was earmarked to the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee.
The money was said to have been budgeted for the committee’s work for three months.
Another N377 million was voted for the settlement of outstanding liabilities, while the Ministry of Finance reportedly collected N410 million  for capacity building.
Another $775,000 was set aside as contribution to the Economic Community of West African States.
In addition, the committee stated the office spent  N59.9 millionto produce and circulate a magazine called ‘Servant Leader Magazine’ and another N300 million on the 2010 World Cup.
The expenditure of N75 million was captured as lobbying for the Federal Government in Washington DC, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation got N257 million as consultancy fees.
The committee directed Dr. Bright Okogu, director-general of the Budget Office, , to provide the list of the agencies that benefited from the disbursement within one week.
The committee also requested the names of the officials, who lobbied for Nigeria in Washington DC to appear and explain the purpose of the lobbying.
Expressing worries over the alleged misuse of the N4.9 billion, Olamilekan added, “It is unfair the way our money is being spent under the guise of contingency.
“You gave out N1.2 billion for people to inspect projects and tagged it contingency projects; what is contingency in that?”
“You dolled out N75 million,  to someone for lobbying; what are we lobbying for?
“This is reckless spending; we cannot ask you to refund them but what we would do is to canvass the scrapping of the Service Wide Votes Account to put an end to the wastage of government money.”
But, Okogu, who defended the expenditure, claimed that they were approved by the Presidency.
He also opposed the scrapping of the service wide votes.
Okogu argued that the money was kept to address emergencies not anticipated by government in the course of the year.
He added that without such votes, government would be helpless in emergency situations.
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