Reps Tackle Finance Ministry over N2.8bn Payment to OPEC

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has tackled Ministry of Finance over the procedure for the payment of the sum of N2.8billion by the Federal Government to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)in 2017 financial year

The Ministry lead by its Permanent Secretary, Mallam Aliyu Ahmed appeared before the Committee chaired by Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke in the ongoing investigative hearing on the Audit queries by Auditor-General of Federation on Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

While defending the queries against the Ministry, Ahmed, said the payment was made by the Minister following a memo by OPEC requesting the said amount.

Ahmed disclosed that the amount was released from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation as payment of Nigeria’s contribution to the OPEC fund for international development in 2017.

Members of the Committee disagreed and wondered that the Minister could release such amount of money without recourse to the President or the Natiional Assembly for proper appropriation

Ahmed said that payments to international organizations were not guided by the Procurement Act.

He said that it was a routine payment and that there were hundreds of international organizations, so if they had to resort to the President for every approval, it would be unmanageable and cost more and this had been the practice over time.

However the lawmakers kicked against the submission saying that it had been done over time does not make it right and such payments must be approved by the President.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon Wole Oke, said approval from the Presidency for such sum would be apt

“Probably an approval from Mr President from FEC for this large sums of money would have been apt. Your submissions are apt. We know where the money is coming from and where it went to. What we are saying and for the Auditor-General to have raised it, there must have been an issue,” he said.

He ruled that in the future, the Ministry should obtain a memo and presidential approval before taking such amounts.

According to him, “For a Minister to dip her hands into the Treasury for whatever purposes and take N2.8 billion is not friendly.

The expenditure was a right cause. It was a responsibility that we undertook to bear. But just the procedure. Maybe a memo. It was not procedural. Until this act is amended, your Minister is still the chief procurer. What would it cost her to take a memo to FEC to get approval?” he said.


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