By Deji Elumoye
The Senate is to probe the N68.922 billion extra budgetary spending by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Nigerian Army, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) since 2015.
Already, the Senate committee on public accounts is already studying the Auditor General for the Federation’s query to the Accountant General of the Federation regarding the extra budgetary spending by the agencies during the period under review.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, told journalists at the weekend that the extra budgetary spendings were under various headings.
He stated that “there is one of N31 billion, N37 billion, and N922 million, among others, drawn from different levies and we are trying to find out whether they are within the appropriation or outside”
His committee, he said, has been scrutinising the report submitted to it by the Auditor-General of the Federation from 2015 till date.
According to him, the committee made some observations while going through the assets and liabilities of the voluminous report
“While perusing the assets and liabilities aspect of the report, we came across certain things that caught our attention in the query by the Auditor – General. He mentioned that loans under special funds were used for different purposes. The money, drawn from levies imposed on imported materials were given out as loans to agencies according to the documents before us.
“The whole idea really is that these loans, we observed from 2014 audited accounts that a particular sum of N922 million was withdrawn from the 25 per cent rice levy as loans given to the Independent National Electoral Commission to finance the 2015 elections. The loan was contrary to the purpose for which the fund was established.”
“It was meant for the local production of rice in Nigeria. “The beneficiaries are supposed to be local rice producers in Nigeria. It was not meant to fund elections. Those who got part of the money are the NYSC, the Nigerian Army, the NSA and others”.
The lawmaker stressed that those involved including the NSA claimed they never applied for any loan that was showing against their names in the document.
“We asked the NSA what it used its own money for. They said they didn’t apply for loan. Virtually all of them are saying that they didn’t apply for loan but it was showing as loan to them from the Auditor-General’s query. The agencies are many. We asked whether they got the money, they said yes. Also, we asked whether it was given to them as loan but they said no.
“NSA told us the truth that it used its own to support the Anambra election in 2013 by providing logistics. The query is to the Accountant General, we just want to corroborate it, that is why we invited the agencies. We are asking them for documents to see whether the money was part of their budget or extra budgetary provisions. We discovered that what was given to these agencies was outside the Appropriation”.