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N5trn contingency fund: Senate threatens to slash 100 MDAs allocations

The Senate on Wednesday threatened to slash the allocations of over 100 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that failed to appear before its Public Accounts…

The Senate on Wednesday threatened to slash the allocations of over 100 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that failed to appear before its Public Accounts Committee to account for the funds they received from the Service Wide Vote (SWV).

Senate President Ahmad Lawan issued the threat after the committee chairman, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo), raised a point of order during plenary that some heads of agencies that received money from the SWV had shunned several invitations extended for explanations on how they spent the funds.

The committee is probing more than 200 government agencies over N5 trillion received between 2017 and 2021 from SWV, the government’s contingency fund in the budget.

Urhoghide said despite sections 88 and 89 of the constitution empowering the parliament to summon federal government agencies to account for public funds they received, the affected agencies had vehemently refused to appear before his committee.

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He, therefore, urged the senate president to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the agencies to appear before the Public Accounts Committee.

Responding, the senate president gave the affected agencies one week ultimatum to appear before the committee or risk zero allocation in the 2023 budget.

Lawan said, “I am taking the opportunity to advise that, in the next one week, the agencies mentioned here should appear before the committee. If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reasons are given, we will slash the budget of the agencies.

“Heads of the affected agencies must take this very seriously because any serving public officer must be ready to render accounts on public funds and if not ready to do so, should quit since nobody should be above the law.”

Some of the agencies are the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, ministries of interior, foreign affairs, finance, transportation, health, works and housing, information and culture, mines and steal development, police affairs, defence, youths and sports, petroleum and aviation.

Others are the State House, Budget Office, Presidential Fleet, Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, NAFDAC, civil defence, Presidential Amnesty Programme, FERMA, NEMA, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Debt Management Office, INEC, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) and National Examination Council (NECO), among others.