Lawmakers Decry Absence of MDAs, 27 States at Ecological Fund Probe, Issue Ultimatum
Udora Orizu in Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund investigating the total consolidated accruals and utilisation of the fund yesterday frowned at the absence of key government agencies and majority of the states to defend the amount they received and how it was spent.
The lawmakers had in June while adopting a motion, resolved to look into the fund utilisation.
At the hearing out of the 36 states only Niger, Enugu, Borno, Imo, Jigawa, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau and Kwara and FCT sent representatives.
Also majority of the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government who were invited didn’t show up, neither did they send representatives.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the development, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ibrahim Isiaka said MDAs that refused to appear or refused to respond to letters were willing to test the capacity of the parliament and would not be disappointed.
Listing the names of individuals, MDAs and institution that refused to attend, he said the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Niger Delta, NEMA, Director General of Nigeria Governor’s Forum, Aishishana Okauru should respond to their letters and unfailingly appear on November 9th, with required documents.
He added that the committee would recover the fund and pump it back into the main ecological account to enable local and states governments benefit.
Isiaka said: “The National Emergency Management Agency didn’t reply to our three letters. The MD of NEMA should respond to all the monies allocated to the agency and hereby summoned to appear on November 9th.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, didn’t respond to our letters, we demand response to the letter on or before November 6th. We invited the Director General of Nigeria Governor’s Forum, Aishishana Okauru and he’s not here nor did he send a representative. We are therefore re-inviting him to appear Wednesday November 9th.”
Addressing the lawmakers, various agencies, states present took turns to explain how much they’ve received so far and what was done with it.
In his presentation, the Accountant -General, Plateau State, Dr. Cyril Tsenyil said, “We were able to come with our inflows from March 2021 to October 2022 and the total inflows in Plateau State is N1,328,521, 802.48. Out of this amount, the local government portion is N425, 103,27.79.
“The disbursement report to local government is attached. Like it’s been said, from 2014, Mr. Chairman, we have not able to lay our hands on the inflows because what we have seeing from FAAC now is what came from 2021 to date.”
Also, Commissioner for Finance, Jigawa State and Secretary of Forum of Commissioners of Finance of Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida Umar explained that the state received N4 billion in 2014 in two tranches of N2 billion.
According to him, from 2021, when the disbursement continued N1.796 billion for State and N1.5 billion for local government from which N1.1 billion was expended.
The Acting Accountant General of the Federation Sylvia Okolieboh, who was represented by the Director Federation Revenue and Special Account Abdulkareem Ibrahim clarified that Ecological fund was incorporated in the monthly allocation.
On his part, the Director Pollution Control at the Ecological Project Office, Clinton Igwe stated that the office received only money meant for the execution of key projects.
While frowning at the misconception about the ecological fund and ecological project office, he stated that the fund sharing was usually done by the Federal Allocation Committee.
Igwe said, “There’s a general misconception about the ecological fund as distinct from ecological project office. Which happens to be one of the core reasons why with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari we had to change our name from ecological fund office to project office.
“To properly situate the office and its mandate, so that public will begin to appreciate that the office is clearly different from the fund.”
Earlier while declaring the hearing open, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said the dedicated pool of resources in the Ecological Fund was also intended for emergency response and remediation during environmental and natural disasters.