The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, to submit a detailed report on the use of the N100bn COVID-19 intervention funds approved and released by the government of former President Muhammadu Buhari to ministries, departments and agencies between 2020 and 2022.
The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Bamidele Salam, who issued the notice in Abuja expressed dismay at the AGF’s refusal to comply with the resolution of the committee to submit the report on October 27, 2023.
He noted that the House had mandated the committee to investigate the “expenditure incurred under the COVID-19 interventions especially in the year 2020 and up to 2022.”
Salam said, “A letter was written to the Accountant General to furnish the committee with details of all releases pursuant to the provisions of the Appropriation Act as well as other interventions captured by the releases from Central Bank of Nigeria to different Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
“That letter, I was duly informed, showed that submission is expected on or before October 27, 2023.
“As we speak, that input has not been received from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
“That is a very important document that will guide our proceedings on the investigation the house mandated us to carry out within a timeframe.
“So, we are sending you (Deputy Director in the Office of the AGF) now to go back home and let the Accountant General know that she has defaulted at the request of the committee. We said on or before the 27th that if there were any objective reasons why she couldn’t meet up with that date, she should communicate to this committee to ask for the extension of time.”
Consequently, he directed the AGF to transmit the report before the close of work on Friday, November 3, 2023.
The House resolution was passed following the adoption of a motion on the ‘Alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2022’, approved by the Federal Government for various Ministries, Departments and Agencies between 2020 and 2022.
Leading the debate on the motion, Nyampa Zakari, who underscored the role of the lawmakers in unmasking corruption in the use of public funds, lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the loss of lives, jobs and economic opportunities for millions of world’s citizens including Nigerians.
“The House is mindful that the Federal Government of Nigeria initiated several measures, including budgetary provisions as well as funding from international donor agencies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic on the citizens.
“The House is also aware that a sum of N83.9bn was appropriated for the COVID-19 response in the 2020 Appropriation Act as well as another sum of over N100bn as intervention funds through supplementary budget and international donor agencies.
“The House is disturbed that the Auditor-General’s report and other sources reveal that significant funds for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and unaccounted for by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
“The House is concerned that the lack of proper accountability of funds allocated for COVID-19 intervention by the Federal Government and global donor agencies could potentially lead to negative economic ratings and loss of opportunities for Nigeria,” Zakari noted.