The House of Representatives, on Thursday, resolved to investigate ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government that are diverting budget releases to other purposes.
The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, is alleging that MDAs often deny receiving funds after the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation have announced releases to them.
The House, therefore, mandated all standing committees to “thoroughly investigate agencies they supervise and identify lapses if any.”
The Committees on Finance and Appropriations were also mandated to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning “for the purposes of ascertaining releases made to ministries, departments and agencies in compliance with the 2021 Appropriation Act.”
Furthermore, the lawmakers resolved that all the committees should conclude this within two weeks and report back to the House for further legislative actions.
Elumelu had moved a motion on a “matter of urgent national importance,” which the lawmakers unanimously adopted.
It was titled, ‘Incessant Abuse and Disregard of the 2021 Appropriation Act By Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government.’
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According to him, complying with the constitutional requirements on spending of public funds will ensure effective and efficient management of public resources, and put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians.
Elumelu, however, said the House was “concerned that though between 40 and 60 per cent of funds have been released for the purposes of implementing the 2021 Appropriation Act, most of the MDAs are yet to dispense these funds for the purposes meant for.”
The lawmaker added, “The House is further concerned that some of the MDAs are alleged to have engaged in financial misappropriation by diverting such funds for other unrelated purposes, thereby frustrating government macro-economic framework, while others are in outright denial of not receiving such releases.
“The House is worried that these alleged practices outright violate the letters and dictates of Sections 80 to 84 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and frustrate the implementation of government policies.
“The House is further worried that if these alleged corrupt practices are not put to check, the perceived fight against corruption by Mr President (Muhammadu Buhari) would be discredited in the eyes of Nigerians and that of the international community.”
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who sought clarification from Elumelu on the motion, said, “I will always qualify my statements by saying if true – if true – then, this is a very serious matter because it is misappropriation, it is diversion of public funds, it is criminal.
“The budget – and I hope all the MDAs are listening to me – of the National Assembly or of the government is a blueprint of what the government seeks to do and its priority areas. If you divert those monies to other projects, it is clearly an economic sabotage. We must look thoroughly into this.
“The budget will be presented in the next couple of days and we are going to suspend the plenary and do our work. But between now and then, we need to have a clear understanding of what has happened.”