The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts and the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday disagreed over the procedure of payment of N2.8bn to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2017.
The argument ensued after a presentation before the committee by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Aliyu Ahmed, at the ongoing investigative hearing on audit queries by the Auditor-General of Federation on Ministries Departments and Agencies.
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Responding to a query on a memo by OPEC requesting the payment of the money, Ahmed said the amount was released from the Office of the Accountant-General as payment of Nigerias contribution to the OPEC fund for international development in 2017.
Members of the committee, however, said the minister could not release such money without recourse to the president. But Ahmed countered that, saying payment to international organizations are not guided by the Procurement Act.
According to him, payment to international organisations is a routine and does not require resort to the president for every approval.
He said it had always been the practice as any delay as a result of waiting for the president’s approval might make it unmanageable and cost more.
The committee’s chairman, Wole Oke, said: “What we’re saying and for the Auditor-General to have raised it, there must have been an issue. For a minister to dip her hands into the treasury for whatever purposes and take N2.8bn is not friendly. The expenditure was a right cause. It was a responsibility that we undertook to bear. But just the procedure.”