NDDC Fails To Defend 2019 Budget Over Discrepancies In Figures

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, writes on a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The 2019 budget defence of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) has suffered a setback.

This comes as the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, led the agency’s Executive Director (Project), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, and other top officials to the National Assembly in Abuja to defend the agency’s budget for the previous year.

The NDDC team appeared before members of the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Niger Delta on Tuesday.

However, they could not successfully defend the agency’s budget as the lawmakers pointed out some discrepancies in the budget.

According to documents presented by Professor Pondei, the NDDC received N305.5 billion for 2019 and spent a total of N122 billion.

While the commission is expected to bring a balance of N183.2 billion forward in the 2020 budget proposal, the report submitted to the lawmakers showed N40 billion.

This photo taken on July 14, 2020, shows some lawmakers at the 2019 budget defence of the NDDC held at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Thereafter, Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, queried Professor Pondei on the discrepancies in the 2019 budget report of the commission.

In his response, the NDDC boss quickly requested the withdrawal of 2019 budget details in order to address the issue of discrepancies of N143 billion raised by the lawmakers.

This got the members of the joint committee but the Chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, yielded to the request.

The budget presentation was later adjourned until Tuesday next week.

The NDDC team appeared before the lawmaker four days after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, asked the National Assembly to check against abuses of the budgeting procedures of the agency.

Akpabio had made the request on Friday last week at the continuation of the Senate’s investigative hearing into allegations of financial recklessness by the IMC of the NDDC.

In this photo taken on July 14, 2020, acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, reads from a paper during the agency’s 2019 budget defence at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

At the previous session, investigation revealed that the commission spent N81 billion between October 29, 2019, and May 31, 2020, an expenditure which was confusing to members of the Senate ad-hoc committee.

The minister said there were instances where monies budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund.

But the immediate past Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Joy Nunieh, said N8 billion was spent by the IMC under her leadership between October 29, 2019, and February 28, 2020, out of the N81 billion spent by the agency within the period under review.

Professor Pondei, who was also at the session, threatened to resign if the allegations of corruptions levelled against the IMC under his leadership were proven.

Budget Defence: Reps Accuse NDIC Boss Of Flouting Buhari’s Directive

 

 

The House of Representatives has refused to consider the 2020 budget estimates of Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Insurance, Jaha Ahmed, stated this on Tuesday at a meeting with a delegation from the NDIC in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He accused the Managing Director of the Corporation, Umaru Ibrahim, of disregarding President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive prohibiting oversea travels during the 2020 budget defence.

READ ALSOKaduna Poly Rector Seeks Joint Action Against Kidnappers

Ahmed, however, acknowledged the formal letter notifying the Committee of the absence of the Chief Executive Officer of the agency.

He insisted that there were certain questions requiring the response of the Chief Accounting Officer of the NDIC.

The lawmaker added that it would amount to wasting legislative hours for the subordinates to take such responsibility.

The NDIC delegation was led to the meeting by the Executive Director, Agbatise Eradianwa.

The meeting held barely six weeks after President Buhari suspended international travels by members of his cabinet and all heads of government agencies to enable them personally lead the process of budget defence at the National Assembly.

This followed the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly by the President, in a bid to ensure the bill was promptly considered and passed by the lawmakers.

In a communique by the Director of Information at the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Willie Bassey, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their schedules of budget defence.

2016 Budget Passage Not Possible In February – NASS

2016 BudgetThe National Assembly says its proposed date of February 25 for the passage of the 2016 budget is not feasible.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives committees on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin said the February 25 target for the passage of the 2016 budget is no longer realistic.

The two lawmakers said that the National Assembly observed during the ongoing budget defence that government ministries have padded their budgets and because of this, lawmakers require more time to thoroughly work on the budget.

In the last two weeks, government ministries, departments and agencies have been visiting the National Assembly to defend their 2016 budget proposals.

But one common trend in almost all the budget defence sessions is that the agencies are complaining of insufficient funds appropriated to them and are asking for more money.

At a budget defence session on Tuesday, the Customs Comptroller General and the Minister of Finance got into an argument over what he said is the poor remuneration for Customs officials.

The Customs CG is also asking for more money for his personnel in the 2016 budget.

Issues such as these, which have been playing out in the budget defence sessions, have led the National Assembly to postpone the date which it set for the passage of the 2016 budget.

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation said that lawmakers also observed complaints from different quarters arising from the imbalance from the capital allocation.

The National Assembly has however not come out with a new date when the 2016 budget would be passed.

2016 Budget Defence: EFCC, Health Ministry Ask For More Funding

EFCCThe Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has appealed for more funding to help it carry out its mandate of checking financial crimes in the country.

This appeal was made by the chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes to defend the commission’s 2016 budget.

“I very much believe that even if you’re going to give us everything we have asked for, it will not be adequate but considering the situation we are, there is nothing we can do,” he said.

The EFCC Chairman was also questioned on the agency’s decision to investigate different sectors of the economy.

As work continues on the 2016 budget that is before the National Assembly, committees have been meeting with the representatives of the different arms of the executive to put finishing touches to the over 6 trillion naira budget.

The Minister of Health also brought this same appeal for more funding when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Health.

Prof. Isaac Adewole raised the issue of shortfall in the ministry’s budget.

“When we looked at the budget including submissions from the teaching hospitals, medical centres and agencies, it came down to 347 billion and we got only 335.7 which is about 10%.”

He also touched on the Zika virus that is becoming a global concern, “I want to say that Zika has been with since 1954. About 25% of Nigerians are positive to Zika virus but what has happened is that it has done nothing to us,” he said, while explaining the need for more action.

The Committee on Local Content also scrutinized the budget of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board while the Committee on Science and Technology is also holding its meeting with agencies under its committee.

A lot of the committees are still expected to appear before the 2016 budget would be presented to the House in plenary.

Reps query Hajj commission over death of 44 pilgrims

The House of Representatives’ committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday queried the management of the National Hajj Commission over the death of 44 Nigerians during this year’s Hajj.

The Chairman of the committee, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje and other committee members expressed the concern during the budget defence by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in Abuja

Mrs Ukeje (PDP-Abia), who took exception to the high level of deaths recorded during the Hajj, said that the death of 44 pilgrims was worrisome.

She attributed it to the alleged dirty and unhygienic condition that Nigerian pilgrims, especially the women, went through during the last Hajj.
The lawmaker directed the commission to forward a full report on the 2012 Hajj operations to the committee as soon as possible.

She said the report should include particular reference to where the Nigerian pilgrims encountered difficulties and the unprecedented death of 44 Nigerian pilgrims.

“I will expect a full report from you on this Hajj operation of 2012,’’ she said.

She, however, congratulated the commission for its success at the last Hajj, especially the handling of the issue of male guardian where sizeable numbers of Nigerian female pilgrims were returned to the country for lack of a mahram.

In his presentation, Mohammad Bello, the Chairman of the commission, said that the 2012 Hajj was smooth in spite of the initial hiccups.

“In spite of all the challenges, we have the full support of all those that are supposed to support, especially the air carriers.”
He said that the quality of accommodation was “much higher than that of last year.’’

Mr Bello said unlike what was obtained in the past years; only one female pilgrim gave birth in the Holy Land compared to 30 in previous years and 15 in the 2011 Hajj.

He said the commission made a budget proposal of N724 million for the 2013 fiscal year.

Mr Bello said the N724 million was made up of N524.46 million for Recurrent and N200 million for Capital expenditure.

We need more money for food in Aso rock, Presidency tells Senate

The Presidency on Wednesday asked the Senate to increase the N1, 305, 292, 050 set aside in the 2013 budget for refreshment and meals and other miscellaneous expenses in the State House.

A breakdown of the Miscellaneous sub-head in the Presidential Villa’s budget shows that N203,752,432 was allocated for refreshment and meals; N107,412,768 would be spent on honorarium and sitting allowance while N37, 277,825 will be for publicity and advertisement.

The State House Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbile, who appeared before the Senator Dahiru Kuta-led Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, defended the N14, 715,566,104 budget for next year.

Mr Ogbile said other expenses that were being taken care of in the refreshment and meals vote, which he said include National Economic Council (NEC), Council of State, conferences in the Banquet Hall, Presidential retreats, National Merit Award, Children’s Day as well as hosting of dignitaries.

He also gave a further breakdown of the 2013 State House budget as thus, Medical expenses (N50,308,546); Postage and courier services (N10,035,583); Welfare packages (N195,066,223); Subscription to professional bodies (N4,589,793); and Sporting activities (N32,910,730).

According to the Permanent Secretary, Overtime will gulp, N250,455,589; Feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary clinic (N30,584,144); Summit/ Extra ordinary sessions including the UN, African Union, ECOWAS, etc (N228,112,862); and NYSC, IT, LOCUM, Housemanship and contract staff allowance (N144,788,555).

Mr Ogbile said: “I have taken pains to explain that this money is not just to fund the residence of the President and that of the Vice President. The experience I have had is that this fund is grossly insufficient. It is not even enough.”

The Permanent Secretary noted that “it is also from the budget of N1.305 billion that we take care of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which holds every Wednesday.”