House C’ttee Queries Ecological Fund over N125m Spent on Publicity, Meetings


By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives has queried the Ecological Fund Office over the expenditure of N85 million for advertisement of its activities in 2010, and another N30 million which the office claimed was used to organise a stakeholders meeting. 

The committee, at a meeting with officials of the Ecological Fund led by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Habiba Lawal, said the expenditures were worrisome, as the office could not provide receipts and other documentation that the monies were indeed spent as claimed.

The discoveries were made in the report of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF) for 2010.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, queried how the agency expected the legislature to just take its word as it is, that the money was spent as claimed, without appropriate documentation. 

“Some of these monies were just spent because they were in the budget, I do not think the country  got value for money. N85 million for publicity: I am sure if we go into details concerning the retirement, a lot would be revealed,” he said. 

He directed that all invoices and receipts for the adverts should be submitted to the committee. 

The agency was also queried over N30 million advanced payment to participants at a stakeholders’ meeting in 2010, particularly as documentation on the expenditure presented different dates of the meeting.

A memo submitted by the agency claimed the meeting held in Akure in August 2010, while another memo claimed it held in November 2010.

Neither of the memo submitted to the committee provided a breakdown of the expenditure.

The agency, when requested to do so, could not state the amount expended on accommodation for participants at the meeting or the total allowances paid to them.

Hon. Odeleye Kehinde (Ogun APC) noted that providing the name of the venue where the meeting held does not take away the importance of the amount involved. 

He referred to a report submitted to the minister on the meeting, noting that it does not contain any information on expenditure. 

“Your report to the minister does not state the amount, venue, etc. of the meeting, unless you were just informing the minister that the meting held…If you are here and there is no documentation to back your answers, then it is like you are not here. He who goes equity, must go with cleans hands,” he said.

The committee ruled that all documentation related to the meeting, including the list of participants should be submitted. 

The committee also issued a two week ultimatum to the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) to recover N5 million deducted as Cost of Transaction (COT) by three commercial banks, in 2010.

The OAGF had queried the lodgment of government funds in accounts that required COT, an act which is illegal.

Hon. Oluwole Oke (Osun PDP) urged that the banks be invited to appear before the committee to compel them to release the funds for transmission to the Treasury Single Account (TSA).