House of Representatives has mandated its Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to investigate how N183.9 billion appropriated or disbursed as COVID-19 intervention funds to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government from 2020 to 2022 was spent.
The lawmakers alleged that an 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 MDAs.
This followed adoption of a motion moved by a member, Zakari Dauda Nyampa, at the plenary, yesterday.
Presenting the motion, the lawmaker said the Federal Government initiated several measures including budgetary provisions and funding from international donor agencies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “N83.9 billion was appropriated for the COVID-19 response in the 2020 Appropriation Act and another sum of over N100 billion naira as intervention funds through supplementary budget and international donor agencies.
“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 government.”
He expressed concern that 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.
The House adopted the motion and directed the PAC to investigate and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
Also, the Committee on Appropriation assured President Bola Tinubu of speedy passage of the 2024 Appropriation Bill when it is eventually presented.
Chairman of the committee, Abubakar Bichi, who stated this at the inaugural meeting of the committee, yesterday, said the lower chamber will ensure the sustenance of long established precedent of ensuring compliance with the Financial Year Act, through budget passage on or before December 31 of each financial year.
He promised that the panel will monitor implementation by all MDAs, stressing that the committee’s work is not just about budget appropriation. According to him, the committee stands as one of the most prominent, championing the cause of lawmaking through appropriations of funds.
He said: “The committee is empowered by Order 20, Rule 15 of the House of Representatives Standing Orders, 10th Edition, 2020 as Amended to coordinate, monitor, and supervise the implementation of all Appropriation Acts after passage by the National Assembly.
“This power will be effectively utilised to exercise oversight jurisdiction on relevant agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Federal Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, and National Economic Intelligence Agency, among others, to monitor budget implementation.”
Bichi added: “In furtherance of this significant duty, the committee’s leadership will initiate a strategic meeting with Chairmen of Finance, National Planning and Aids, Loans and Debt Management to gather data that will facilitate effective functioning of this committee.”