Senate Queries National Orientation Agency Over N2bn unretired cash advances to staff
****as Lawmakers Fault the agency for disbursement of N129 cash to staff
Senate Committee on Public Accounts has queried National Orientation Agency (NOA) over payment N2 billion as cash advances to some members of staff of the agency which was left unretired.
The Committee was also amazed by the discovery that payment of N129 million cash was made to some members of staff of the agency instead of paying the money directly into their accounts as stipulated in Circular on e-payment Ref No. TRY/A8&B8/2008 OAGF/CAD/026/VOL.11/465 dated 22nd October, 2008 .
The Senate Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide hinged the query on the 2016 report of Auditor General of the Federation which is being considered by Senate Committee.
It was discovered that the Agency did not attached the vouchers used in spending the N2 billion to the documents submitted to the Committee as it only presented Journals to justify the expenditure which was not acceptable to the lawmakers.
On failure to retired N2 billion, the Director- General of the Agency , Garba Abari who pleaded for more time for the agency to look for relevant vouchers supporting the expenditure said he was alarmed when he heard the figure.
A member of Committee , Senator Peter Nwaboshi asked the agency to tell which emergency programme were they planning for that needed N129 million to have been taken to the venue in cash.
The Officials of the agency were unable to give cogent response to Senator Nwaboshi’s question.
After some heated arguments on the query , the Committee yielded to the request of the Director General of the agency for more time to address the issues raised in the query.
The Committee thereafter adjourned the meeting for NOA till 27th May, 2021 in order for them to prepare properly.
The query reads,”The following observations were made:- A sum of N1.9 billion being cash advanced to some members of staff of the Agency, was left unretired as at 31st December, 2014. In 2015, additional outstanding advances amounting to N108.4 million was recorded, thereby bringing the total to N2 billion.
“The practice of not retiring advances granted to staff contravened the provision of Financial Regulation 1405 which stipulates that accounting officers are responsible for ensuring prompt repayment of all advances by installments or otherwise. Furthermore, Advances Register was not properly maintained and retirement file not kept in line with Financial Regulation 1404 which requires each accounting officer of a Ministry/Extra Ministerial office and other arms of government to ensure that Advances Account Records are fully indexed and maintained to record advances issued and all recoveries made. “
But, NOA in a written response said,” After careful examination of our books, it was found that the figures are Programmes expenses and ought to have been expenses after retirement and not to be capitalized and carried forward in our statement of Financial position in the General purpose financial statement (GPFS).”
The second query reads, “Examination of the Agency‟s payment vouchers revealed that payments totalling N129,036,700.00 violated the provision of the Circular on e-payment Ref No. TRY/A8&B8/2008 OAGF/CAD/026/VOL.11/465 dated 22nd October, 2008 which stipulates that all employees of the Federal Government of Nigeria must open an account with a commercial bank into which all payments due to him/her must be paid and on no account should the Central Pay Officer (CPO) collect cash from the bank for the purpose of disbursement to a government official or contractor.
“As a result, the expenditures cannot be accepted as legitimate charges against public funds. The Director-General should justify the breach of extant regulations. Otherwise, the officers that authorized the payments should be sanctioned in compliance with Financial Regulation 3128. “
But, NOA said in a written response, ” The payment in question were accumulation of several payment made over a period of time while the agency was carrying out it’s various Programmes.
“The urgency and nature of the Agency’s programme sometimes necessitate it to use the programme accountant to disburse money to individual who may not have accounts or are constrained by time and circumstances to quickly access their bank as most of these Programmes are time bound.”
The agency was unable to present any document justifying disbursement of the N129 million to the Committee.
Harvest of constituency projects in Ankpa II, as Hon Rabiu innaugurates three
It was a harvest of projects for the constituents of Ankpa II State constuency as the member representing them in Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon Alfa Momoh Rabiu presented three projects for commissioning.
The lawmaker had added value to the educational development of his constituency through the construction of a Library, Laboratory and the renovation of the administrative block of a community secondary school.
The projects which were part of his contituency obligation benefited Government Day Secondary school Enabo with the construction of a Library complex and Laboratory, while community Grammar School, Ojoku benefited through the renovation of its adminstrative block.
The Honorable Commissioner for Solid Minerals and representative of the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State, Hon Bashir Gegu commissioned the newly constructed library and laboratory at Government Secondary School, Enabo.
Relatedly, the Rector, Kogi State Polytechnic, Dr Salisu Usman Ogbo commissioned the renovated administrative block on behalf of the Chairman Ankpa Local Government, Hon Ibrahim Abagwu at the Community Grammar School, Ojoku.
Hon Rabiu who was in high spirits promised to replicate the gesture in all the schools across Ankpa II constituency.
He advised the people to be optimistic about the government of the day, led by Governor Yahaya Bello adding that the dividend of democray will trickle down to every part of the State.
Ban on open Grazing gains more ground as Southern Speakers promise legislative backing
The recent resolution by the Southern State Governors Forum that banned open grazing in their respective domains is gaining more ground as Speakers of their States’ Assembly’s have thrown their weight behind them
The speakers at the weekend declared their support for the resolutions that banned open grazing, called for national dialogue and restructuring of the Federation amongst other demands.
The Speakers, in their own resolution that was signed by speaker Delta State House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, in Asaba, lauded the Southern Governors for the unity of purpose that brought them together to speak with one voice.
They reiterated the fact that the resolutions of the Southern Governors were key to resolving the problems facing the country.
They said: “We, the Speakers of State Legislatures in Southern Nigeria commend the Governors of the Southern States for their patriotism and firm belief in the unity of the country.
“We salute the Governors for their initiative and restate our support for the positions of the Governors. We wish to state unequivocally that the issues canvassed in the communique are neither new nor strange, rather they require swift response from the Federal Government.
“The country is currently undergoing very challenging times and requires bold and audacious measures to stop it from sliding into abyss.
“We maintain that the positions of the Governors as contained in the communique issued on the 11th of May, 2021 in Asaba are sacrosanct and a guarantee for justice, fairness and equity in the country.
“We adopt all the positions in the communique and reiterated the call for the ban on open grazing of cattle in the South.
“We support the call for the restructuring of the country to enthrone true federalism and therefore the convocation of a National Dialogue is inevitable.
“That this will afford stakeholders from all parts of the country to table their prejudices and together work out a sustainable relationship as one indivisible country.
“We pledge to deploy our legislative powers to strengthen the positions canvassed by the Governors.
“We also urge the Governors to send bills to the Legislature where necessary to address some of the issues in the communique.
“Finally, we thank His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State for providing the platform for the meeting of the Governors”.
At the meeting were Sheriff F.O Oborevwori Deputy National Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria and Mr Aniekan Bassey, Vice Chairman South- South, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria.
Other were: Francis O.Nwifuru, Vice chairman South East, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria and Prince Olakunle Taiwo Oluomo, Vice Chairman South West, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria.
Communal Clashes: Senators Sue for Peace in Benue, Ebonyi
Worried by the lingering communal Clashes among people of some communities in their States , Senators Abba Moro ( PDP Benue South) and Sam Egwu ( PDP Ebonyi North) , have sued for peace.
The two senators at a joint press conference on Wednesday in Abuja , said the warring communities across the two states should cease fire by allowing the National Boundary Commission to wage in as far as appropriate demarcation of territories are concerned .
The jointly signed press statenent by the Senators reads : ” As the Senators representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District and Benue South Senatorial District, we are here to brief you on recent security concerns that have substantially threatened the peace and development of the people of Ohaukwu and Ado LGAs in our Senatorial Districts.
“On Monday the 12th day of April, 2021, alleged herdsmen invaded Umuogudu Akpu Community, Ngbo, in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and gruesomely killed over 12 innocent indigenes, burnt/destroyed over 56 houses and kidnapped 5 persons.
” While we were mourning our people and trying to identify the extent of damage, we were surprisingly greeted with a statement by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, without any form of investigation, that the attack was carried out by Agila people, and not Fulani herdsmen.
” This claim, which has the potential of heightening the tension between the two communities has long been refuted and denied by the Chairman of Ado LGA and the Government of Benue State. The people of Ado LGA who have been victims of herdsmen attacks in recent times couldn’t have hired the same people to carry out an attack on their behalf.
“There have been sustained efforts on our part to finally settle the land dispute and restore lasting peace between Ngbo people in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and the Agila people in Ado LGA of Benue State, which have lingered over the years. Motions have been raised on the floor of the Senate, resolutions passed by the Senate and efforts sustained at the State and Federal levels to ensure that lasting peace is restored between the two communities.
“We urge security operatives to move into the affected communities and secure lives and property of the people. We know that both communities have embraced the proposed rebeaconing and delimitation exercise by the National Boundary Commission.
” We therefore urge that the exercise should be carried out with dispatch to finally put to an end all the boundary-related crises in our Senatorial Districts”.
The two federal lawmakers also proffered similar solutions for the Ezza/ Effium crisis .
They said : ” On the Ezza/Effium crisis, which started in Effium community in Ebonyi state and spilled into Ado LGA in Benue State because of the presence of Ezzas/Effiumites in Ado LGA, it is regrettable that the crisis is yet to be contained, leading to the relocation of some Efium and Ezza people to neighboring communities both in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and Ado LGA of Benue State, thereby creating apprehension in those neighboring communities.
“The alleged abduction of Five Elders from Odum Community of Ulayi District, Ado LGA before Easter Sunday has heightened the tension between the affected communities. However, the timely intervention of the government to contain the situation has prevented any form of retaliation or reprisal attack. It was resolved that the Traditional Council of Ado Local Government should reach out to the elders and traditional leaders of Ohaukwu LGA to broker more peaceful negotiations and resolution of the matter.
“We therefore call on the Governments of Benue and Ebonyi States to put in greater efforts and in collaboration with relevant Federal Government Agencies to take immediate practical steps to ensure immediate of all adopted persons and restoration of lasting peace between the affected communities.
“We urge our people in the affected communities to please apply restraint, avoid all forms of violence, maintain peaceful coexistence and rest assured that we will do everything within our power and influence to ensure the restoration of lasting peace in the affected communities” .
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