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Senate gives Ministry 48 hours to account for N13.9b

The Senate has given the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy a 48 hours ultimatum to account for N13.9 billion it collected from Service Wide Votes from 2017 to 2021.

The Senate’s decision was sequel the failure of the Ministry to tender documents on the spending of the N13.9 billion.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. William Alo, failed to tender documentary evidence on how the money was expended by the Ministry during the period under review.

Trouble came the way of the Ministry when the Chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, and other members quizzed the Communication Ministry Permanent Secretary on details of the expenditure made from the collected Service Wide Votes.
The Permanent Secretary  along with Director of Finance and Administration from the ministry incurred the wrath of the panel for begging for more time for the documentary evidence after blabbing for several minutes.

Angered by his request, the committee Chairman said such a plea would not be granted after four months of enquiry on how the said fund was expended by the Ministry.

Urhoghide said based on records made available to the committee from the office of Accountant General of the Federation, a total of N13.9 billion was disbursed to the Ministry from the Service Wide Votes for special capital projects execution from 2017 to 2021.

He said: “Series of letters have been written to your Ministry since September last year for required explanations on how the Service Wide Votes were expended without prompt response.

“Only for you to come here today along with the DFA of the Ministry to beg for more time,  which would not be granted beyond Thursday this week because the committee must submit report to the Senate on how your Ministry and many of the other MDAs are running away from explanations on spendings made from the Service Wide Votes.

“What the Committee and, by extension, the Senate wants from your Ministry are evidence of approval of the funds given, evidence of contracts awarded and executed from the funds.

“Accountability is key as far as public account or fund is concerned.

“The very purpose for which this committee was constitutionally created.

“Our findings on how the various MDAs spent the Service Wide Votes given to them show that accountability and transparency were not adhered to, which, to us, is unacceptable.

“The consequence of is that your Ministry and other MDAs found wanting would be made to cough out whatever amount mismanaged by way of returning them to the government coffers.”

The Committee however granted the embattled Permanent Secretary another re-appearance before it on Thursday this week when he said N7 billion out of the N13.9 billion was expended on Galaxy Backbone by an agency under it.



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