The Committee was mandated by the House to investigate the “expenditure incurred under the COVID-19 interventions, especially in the year 2020 and up to 2022.”
Salam stated, “A letter was written to the Accountant General to provide the committee with details of all releases in accordance with the provisions of the Appropriation Act, as well as other interventions captured by the release from the Central Bank of Nigeria to different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the government.
“I was duly informed that the submission was expected on or before October 27, 2023.
“As of now, we have not received that input from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
“That is a crucial document that will guide our proceedings in the investigation that the House mandated us to carry out within a specified timeframe.
“Therefore, we are sending you (Deputy Director in the Office of the AGF) back home to let the Accountant General know that she has failed to comply with the committee’s request. We stated that if there are any valid reasons why she couldn’t meet that deadline, she should communicate with this committee to request an extension of time.”
Consequently, he directed the AGF to submit the report before the close of work on Friday, November 3, 2023.
The House resolution was passed after the adoption of a motion on the ‘Alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2022.’ The funds were approved by the Federal Government for various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) between 2020 and 2022.
During the debate on the motion, Nyampa Zakari emphasized the role of lawmakers in uncovering corruption in the use of public funds. He lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic led to the loss of lives, jobs, and economic opportunities for millions of citizens, including Nigerians.
“The House acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted economic activities, resulting in global measures such as lockdowns, travel restrictions, business closures, and government shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus.
“The House recognizes that the disruption of economic activities necessitated the implementation of various programs, policies, and interventions to alleviate and boost the economies of families, small businesses, and public corporations.
“The House is aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria implemented several measures, including budgetary provisions as well as funding from international donor agencies, to combat the COVID-19 pandemic among citizens.
“It is also known that a sum of N83.9 billion was allocated for the COVID-19 response in the 2020 Appropriation Act, along with another sum of over N100 billion as intervention funds through the supplementary budget and international donor agencies.
“The House is disturbed by reports from the Auditor-General and other sources, revealing that significant funds allocated for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and not accounted for by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the Government.
“The House is concerned that the lack of proper accountability for funds allocated for COVID-19 intervention by the Federal Government and global donor agencies could potentially result in negative economic ratings and missed opportunities for Nigeria,” said Hon. Zakari.
Contributing to the debate, House member Ahmed Jaha expressed regret that the funds spent on managing COVID-19 in Nigeria could have been put to better use. He called on the House to thoroughly investigate the management of the intervention funds.
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