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N1.7 Trillion: House Of Reps Invite Former Finance Minister Adeosun For Questioning

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The House of Representatives on Thursday, August 6, 2020, summoned a former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, her successor, Zainab Ahmed, and the Humanitarian Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq, over the spending of N1.7 trillion on the implementation of the National Social Investment Programmes, NSIP, between 2016 – 2019.

Also invited are the current and former permanent secretaries including desk officers at the National Social Investment Office, NSIO, involved in the budgetary execution of the social intervention programmes within the four-year period review.

They are all to appear before the House Committee on Public Procurement headed by Oluwole Oke, PUNCH reports.

In his presentation, the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, who appeared before an investigative hearing into the audit queries on the financial activities of the NSIPs, said before the scheme was moved to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, payment for the programmes were signed from the National Social Investment Office.

Agba, however, gave a breakdown of the N1.7 trillion appropriated for the NSIPs, saying that only N619.142 billion was released and N560.914 billion was utilised.

According to him, a balance of N58.227 billion was handed over to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.

He also explained that “N32.088 billion was released for Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP; N20.59 billion for Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT; N149.965 billion for Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, HGSFP, N355.846 billion for Job Creation Unit, while N2.428 billion was released for Social Investment Programme (General).

“Prior to the handing over to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, requests for payments for all types of expenditures in respect of any of the programmes of NSIP emanated from the National Social Investment Office situated under the Office of the Vice President.

“Requests for payments from the NSIO office were signed by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment. Funds for the programmes are domiciled in (the) Central Bank of Nigeria Account Number 0020208461037,” Agba said.

The official, however, stated that he was not the finance minister between 2016 and 2017.

Dissatisfied, the house committee chairman summoned the current and former minister over the negligence by all the desk officers to provide the procurement records.

Mr Oke also alleged that the Special Assistant to the President on Home School Feeding Programme, Dotun Adebayo provided “misleading information on the NSIP account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“We gave you powers, pursuant to our various appropriation Acts, to spend money, no problem. We are only asking you, based on the project audit, to retire. Give us records. It is as simple as that,” Mr Oke said.

“You’ve given us records of N-Power. Nobody is arguing with you over N-Power. We can see the names of beneficiaries of N-Power; nobody is making noise about it.

“As members, we can feel the N-Power beneficiaries in the various local government areas and constituencies; nobody is asking you questions about it. But Dotun claimed that (the) Auditor-General said they spent N191 billion and we are asking him to retire same. It is as simple as that.

“Give us records, what you did with N191 billion. Who did you pay to? That is the question we are asking. We should be able to report to Nigerians. That is what we are asking for. Give us the procurement report and that ends there.”

Oke also said the committee members will, as from next Monday, visit their states and federal constituencies to verify the beneficiaries of various NSIP programmes and submit their reports.

The NSIP include the school feeding programme for primary school pupils, the N-Power for jobless graduates, the conditional cash transfer for elderly vulnerable Nigerians, and the government empowerment programme that includes tradermoni – giving microloans to small-scale traders.

The programme started under the control of the Vice President but since the commencement of the second tenure of the Buhari administration, Ms Sadiya has been in charge.

Source: The Nation

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