A report by leading online news website, PREMIUM TIMES, has alleged that Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, in collusion with the Accountant-General of the federation, Ahmed Idris, “arbitrarily and illegally” facilitated a N10 billion wire to Nigeria’s Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker Yakubu Dogara played active roles in seeking the money for their respective colleagues, according to the report. Below are the major points of interest as published by PREMIUM TIMES:
1. The N10 billion was released to the lawmakers as part of a secret N50billion approved for the execution of “constituency projects” which were discreetly inserted into the budgets of several ministries, agencies and parastatals by Saraki and other lawmakers.
2. Another N485million was released for the construction of model junior secondary schools across Kwara Central Senatorial District, a project of the Senate President. Four hundred and fifty million naira (N450million) was approved for the project in the 2017 appropriation law, but an extra N35 million was released.
3. To facilitate the cash, Saraki and Dogara had a list of 82 contractors which they claimed the National Assembly was owing and the amount due to each contractor. Without due diligence on the contractors’ status at CAC, BPP, and her Ministry, Minister Adeosun directed the cash management office at the finance ministry to wire the cash to the lawmakers.
4. But PREMIUM TIMES investigated and found that at least 44 of the 82 contractors were not registered on the National Database of Contractors, a database of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). It implies, in theory, that they are not eligible to be awarded federal contracts. Also 17 of the 44 firms were not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the news website found.
5. The Accountant-General Ahmed Idris, when requested to respond, said the controversial payment was sourced from a N20 billion service-wide vote “provided for local contractors’ liabilities under the 2017 Appropriation for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and institutions of Government.”
6. To be sure, N20 billion was appropriated for the payments of local contractors. However, those who spoke to the news site’s reporters described the payments to those hired by the National Assembly as llegal. Others have wondered why half of the funds set aside for offsetting contractors backlogs will be sent just to the National Assembly while many others around the country remain unpaid.
Neither the Senate, House or Ministry of Finance has provided sufficient arguments to respond to the claims that this was a fraudulent transaction made in contravention of relevant laws.