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Accountant General of the Federation Asked to Explain N100bn COVID-19 Funds Spending

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On Wednesday, the House of Representatives issued a 72-hour ultimatum to Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, the Accountant General of the Federation, to submit a detailed report on the use of the N100bn COVID-19 intervention funds. These funds were approved and released by the government of former President Muhammadu Buhari to ministries, departments, and agencies between 2020 and 2022.

Bamidele Salam, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, expressed disappointment at the AGF’s failure to comply with the resolution of the committee to submit the report on October 27, 2023.

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 furnish the committee with details of all releases pursuant to the provisions of the Appropriation Act as well as other interventions captured by the releases from the Central Bank of Nigeria to different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the government.

“That letter, I was duly informed, showed that submission is expected on or before October 27, 2023.

“As we speak, that input has not been received from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

“That is a very important document that will guide our proceedings on the investigation the house mandated us to carry out within a timeframe.

“So, we are sending you (Deputy Director in the Office of the AGF) now to go back home and let the Accountant General know that she has defaulted at the request of the committee. We said on or before the 27th that if there were any objective reasons why she couldn’t meet up with that date, she should communicate to this committee to ask for the extension of time.”

Consequently, he directed the AGF to transmit the report before the close of work on Friday, November 3, 2023.

The House resolution was passed following the adoption of a motion on the “Alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2022,” approved by the Federal Government for various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies between 2020 and 2022.

During the debate on the motion, Nyampa Zakari highlighted the role of lawmakers in combating corruption in the use of public funds. Zakari lamented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the loss of lives, jobs, and economic opportunities for millions of people, including Nigerians.

“The House is mindful that the Federal Government of Nigeria initiated several measures, including budgetary provisions as well as funding from international donor agencies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic on the citizens.

“The House is also aware that a sum of N83.9bn was appropriated for the COVID-19 response in the 2020 Appropriation Act as well as another sum of over N100bn as intervention funds through supplementary budget and international donor agencies.

“The House is disturbed that the Auditor-General’s report and other sources reveal that significant funds for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and unaccounted for by various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the government.

“The House is concerned that the lack of proper accountability of funds allocated for COVID-19 intervention by the Federal Government and global donor agencies could potentially lead to negative economic ratings and loss of opportunities for Nigeria,” Zakari noted.

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