•Agency spent N23m on stationery in one year
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The 2023 budget preparation may suffer some setback as several agencies of the federal government continue to ignore summon by the House Committee on Finance to defend their 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) on which the fiscal document is predicated.
Agencies who were scheduled to appear before the lawmakers since the sitting started on Monday, have shunned the summon, while those that showed up failed to present the required documents.
Some of the agencies that have failed to appear before the Committee include the Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Trust Fund and Nigeria College of Aviation Technology.
Others were: NNPC Limited, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, Oil and Gas Free Zone, Federal Ministry of Power, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Galaxy Backbone PLC, Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company, Nigeria Export Import Bank, Nigeria Port Authority and Nigeria Shippers Council.
Out of 12 agencies that were scheduled to appear before the committee yesterday, only four showed up, but were turned back for improper preparation.
The Committee particularly refused to take the submission of the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority for what it described as disjointed and unorganized presentation and asked them to go and repackage the document and reappear before them next Tuesday.
The Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Hon. Saidu Abdullahi who presided over the session said the National Assembly would not accept agencies of government ignoring invitations for them to come and tell Nigerian what they have done with revenue at their disposal and what they were bringing to the table in terms of revenue generation.
The lawmaker said, “we made this clear yesterday that ordinarily, we are supposed to be on recess, but because of the core importance of this exercise, we called off our recess to take up this national assignment.
“It is very unfortunate that while we are making this sacrifice, the agencies are not turning up as expected. The National Assembly will not take this lightly with the agencies. It is a call to national duty.
“We do not understand why they should shy away from responding to the responsibility imposed on them.
“It should be a point of note that all agencies that have been invited must have cause for appearance. Otherwise, we will rely on the powers conferred on us by the constitution to make them responsible. This apathy is not something that should be acceptable to anybody and we will not accept it.
“We have agencies that are highly irresponsible. If this country is not working today, let it be out there so that Nigerians will know that it is on the shoulders of the MDAs. We have invited them for this all-important exercise, but unfortunately, most of them have shown apathy. We don’t know what they are afraid of, but it is a matter of responsibility.
“If you have willingly accepted the call for service, I don’t understand why you should shy away from taking responsibility. So, let it be known that we have agencies that are highly irresponsible.
“The responsibility of making this country work rest on the National Assembly and the Executive. We are doing our part of it, but unfortunately, we are not getting what we expect from the agencies.”
Meanwhile, the Committee discovered that the Nigeria Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) spent a whopping N23 million on office stationery in 2021, while remitting only N124 million out of the N499 million it generated in 2021 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation.
The Director General of the agency, Mohammed Muazu Ibrahim had in his presentation told the lawmakers that the agency generated about N499 million in 2021, but remitted only N124 million to the CRF, representing 25 percent of the IGR.
The lawmakers pointed out that as a fully funded agency of government, the law required them to remit 100 per cent of their IGR.
Commenting on the development, a member of the Committee, Hon. Olalekan Afolabi said the agency, like many others were only out to siphon government resources.
Afolabi said, “they know what that they are not supposed to remit 25 per cent. Look at their presentation which clearly show that they know the right thing to do and are deliberately not doing it.
“If they are permitted under the law to spend that money, they should have budgeted for it. Look at under the budget column, they wrote there meaning they did not budget for it, but under the actual, they spent almost everything that they generated.
“Until we begin to use heavy hammer on these agencies, they will not comply. They knew the right thing to do, but they are not doing it. This their report clearly show that they knew what they are doing.”
Corroborating Afolabi’s position, the Deputy Chairman said, “you are supposed to remit 100 percent your IGR because government is bearing all your cost, except if you are telling us that you have grown to the level where you can stand on your own so that we will take you off the national budget.
“You don’t have the right to touch a single kobo of what you are generating. If you want to provide for your staff welfare, you can do that through Salaries and Wages Commission.
“The law says that whatever you generate, you remit it 100 percent. Your board cannot constitute itself into parliament because they don’t have the authority to make laws. We made laws here that you are supposed to comply with. Except if you are telling us that your board is superior to the National Assembly.”