Breaking : Buhari’s Minister in Trouble as Senate Asks Ministry to Refund N98.4m Collected for Flyers

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Breaking : Buhari’s Minister in Trouble as Senate Asks Ministry to Refund N98.4m Collected for Flyers

 

The Senate requires the Ministry of Petroleum to reimburse N98.4m obtained for flyers.

The Senate frowned on the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for spending N98.4 million, without due process, on allegedly printing leaflets.

The leaflets are said to have been printed as part of the Petroleum Industry Bill awareness campaign programme (PIB).

President Muhammad Buhari is the Sudanese minister of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, a portfolio he has held since coming to office in 2015, while also naming a minister of state to oversee the day-to-day running of affairs for the ministry.

Unhappy with the clarification provided by the ministry, the lawmakers ordered it to refund the cash to the federation account.

It also demanded the Ministry to reimburse the additional N39 million paid into two personal accounts in order to track the project within Abuja.

Following a question issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in the 2015 report, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts (SPAC’s) issued the order and placed it before it for probe and presentation to the Senate plenary.

This was made known to newsmen on Saturday by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Uroghide (PDP Edo South).

The inquiries made open to newsmen read:

Contrary to the procurement process, a sum of N98.4 million was entered in the cash book in support of a corporation for the printing of leaflets for the Petroleum Industry Bill awareness campaign scheme (PIB).

‘There was no formal award of the contract and it was also noted that the Director (Press) submitted the acceptance of the payment to the Ministerial Tender Board at the meeting of 9 and 11 October 2013 by memo.

“In accordance with the provisions of the existing regulation, the Permanent Secretary was requested to take procedural disciplinary measures against the erring officers.”

In its written response, the ministry answered that the project was sufficiently publicised.

Based on demonstrated skills and competence, M/s Dangrace and partners Ltd have been selected.

“It should be noted that authentic costing proposals were submitted and accepted before the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) Authorization for the award and development of leaflets.

“The Department has complied with the rules and procedures required,” it said.

The Ministry’s further inquiry read, “Contrary to the Federal Government’s e-payment policy, the total sum of N39.7 million was paid to 178 Ministry staff for project monitoring and assessment in 2014.”

The disbursement was charged instead of direct payment to individual accounts, 2 (two) accounts vide PV. Nos. Nos. MPR/CAP/828/2014 and MPR/CAP/826/2014, dated 02/12/14, respectively.

‘It was curious that at the same time, 178 officers in the Ministry’s division might be interested in project monitoring and evaluation. Other anomalies have been observed: duplication of the names of the officials, duplication of locations, monitoring of projects outside the legislative jurisdiction of the Ministry and its parastatals, payment of DTA and other travel allowances to the parastatal monitoring workers based in Abuja.

There was no proof submitted by the M&E Division for the audit review of the project monitoring exercise carried out by the 178 officers, despite the payment of N1,4 million to the coordinating secretariat for that reason.

“This expenditure cannot be accepted as a legitimate charge against public funds for any intent or purpose.”

“The two employees were appointed as the project accountants for the project,” the ministry responded. For prudence and transparency, people were grouped and allocated to different tasks.

Reports have been sent to the relevant department of the DPRDD.

“In the best interest of the service, due process and procedure have been followed.

Duplication of the names and positions of the officers was due to officers visiting numerous locations after grouping. Within Abuja UT, no officer was paying DTA for monitoring parastatals who were paid to monitor those outside Abuja.

But, not satisfied, the Senate committee asked the officers of the ministry concerned to return the money to the account of the federation.

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