James Emejo in Abuja
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and Refugees, Hon. Sani Zoro (APC, Jigawa) on Monday refused to allow the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFR) to defend its 2018 budget over faulty accounts rendition and lack of transparency in the implementation of its 2017 budget.
He had wondered among other things, why the agency, which was led by its Commissioner, Hajiya Sadiat Umar Farouk to the budget defence session, could have provided all awarded contracts in rounded figures without any kobo behind them.
Noting that there was no way all contract awards would be in rounded figures, he said the accounts rendition by the agency was “highly suspect”.
Zoro also expressed disappointment over the agency’s inability to furnish the committee with bank account balances and evidence of tax compliances by contract beneficiaries as required by government policy.
Zoro further chided Farouk for lack of cooperation with the committee on terms of implementing various aspects of its budget, a situation which lawmakers said created a lot of vacuum in the implementation of the previous budget.
A member of the committee, Hon. Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) said the NCFR accounts were riddled with lots of gaps, pointing out that there ought to be clear information on each items contracted.
He said data and payments by companies must be provided to parliament, without which further interaction can’t proceed with the agency.
He said: “To make impact on the lives of returnees, there must be. value for money. Until we get these, we can’t proceed with 2018 budget. The documents were brought to us this morning and I see this as an ambush. We’ve to step down 2018 and srutinise 2017.”
Also, another member of the committee, Hon. Igariwey Iduma Enwo (PDP, Ebonyi) said the essence of an oversight was to follow appropriated funds adding that “We must understand what happened to 2017 budget before going to 2018. About 70 companies that participated in the contract award and we need to know what happened.”
But he said available information to the committee was vague.
Hon. Mohammed Sheriff (APC, Borno) said the records provided by the agency was not commensurate with facts on the ground as many internally displaced persons in troubled spots were yet to be touched by the federal government intervention programmes.
The committee said there’s need for value for money and transparency in its activities.
The IDP agency boss had said N5.5 billion was appropriated for it in 2017 with another N3.2 billion in zonal intervention projects.
But the lawmakers were not satisfied with the implementation of the budget.
In ruling however, the chairman, who yielded to the position of all the members, however, allowed Kangiwa one week grace to clean up its documents and return to face further scrutiny from the parliament.