January 8, 2009

BUDGET DEFENCE:Unspent allocation: Ojo Maduekwe to account for over N2.8bn

With more revelations of discrepancies in the implementation of the 2008 budget and the inability of the Minister of State [1] in the Ministry of Affairs, Alhaji Jibril Maigari to defend two different budgets for 2009, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs has insisted that the senior Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe must appear before it next Monday.

Ojo Maduekwe is expected to provide details of N2,805, 631,483 standing as an unspent fund released for execution of projects in the 2008 budget and the sum of N499,908,051, which were not appropriated for in the budget, but were released by the Ministry of Finance.

When coming, chairman of the committee, Hon Umar Bature asked Maduekwe to come with the nominal roll of all staff in the nation’s foreign missions, in addition to written responses to discrepancies spotted in the performances of the 2008 budget.
Bature added that the committee was interested in the status of fees collected on visas issued by the foreign offices, the status of the Nigeria House in New York, the country buildings in Paris, the money given to victims of Tsunami and the status of properties belonging to the country in Washington DC.

Members queried the N1,351,391,240 released for the furnishing of the new headquarters of the ministry when works on the construction of the building was yet to be completed.
Likewise, members fumed that N1,506,009,963 released for installation of new mission/mission/headquarters communication equipment from the 2008 budget was not properly accounted for.

However, the Minister of State explained that the of new mission/mission/headquarters communication equipment contract for which N2.175 billion was appropriated for had been certified by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
Questions were raised over the sum of N63.5 million earmarked for Conakry/Guinea mission; N159.055 million released for Ouagadougou/Burkina Faso and N63.5 million released for Sao Tome mission.

The Committee expressed disgust over the administration of the ministry that had left most foreign nations in state of disrepair, particularly in New York, where the Nigeria House had been certified as not fit for habitation and had been marked for demolition.
Also in the 2008 budget, the committee wanted an explanation on the sum of N50million paid as school fees for children of only seven staff in one mission and the sum of N175million for the purchase of cars, which could not be found.

Bature warned that the House would not hesitate to invoke its powers to get anybody who should appear before the committee to do so, noting that the Foreign Affairs minister must have concluded assignments related to the crisis in Guinea.
He promised the cartel that had held the ministry down hell, stressing that the report of the committee on the budget defence would expose the rottenness in the ministry.

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