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Reps query reckless expenditure of N4.9bn contingency fund

By The Rainbow
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The expenditure of N4.9bn from the Contingency Fund of Federal Government by the Budget Office of the Federation has come under scrutiny.

.The House of Representatives  Committee on Public Accounts has queried the expenditure of the Fund  following the report of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the disbursement of money from the Fund.

Describing the spending pattern as 'reckless', Thee Chairman of the committee, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, said that what the report showed the expenditure smacked of recklessness.

According to him, the beneficiaries of the N4.9bn will be summoned to appear before the committee to explain how they spent it.

The committee threatened to recommend the scrapping of the Service Wide Votes in a bid to halt 'the inexcusable expenditure that the contingency fund has become.'

Some of the expenditure items queried by the lawmakers include:  N1.2bn earmarked for the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee.

The money was said to have been budgeted for the committee's work for three months.

Another N377m was voted for the settlement of outstanding liabilities, while the Ministry of Finance reportedly collected N410m for capacity building.

Another $775,000 was set aside as contribution to the Economic Community of West African States.

In addition, the committee stated the office spent  N59.9m to produce and circulate a magazine called 'Servant Leader Magazine' and another N300m on the 2010 World Cup.

The expenditure of N75m was captured as lobbying for the Federal Government in Washington DC, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation got N257m as consultancy fees.

The committee directed the Director-General of the Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, to provide the list of the agencies that benefited from the disbursement within one week.

The committee also requested the names of the officials, who lobbied for Nigeria in Washington DC to appear and explain the purpose of the lobbying.

Expressing worries over the alleged misuse of the N4.9bn, Olamilekan added, 'It is unfair the way our money is being spent under the guise of contingency.

'You gave out N1.2bn for people to inspect projects and tagged it contingency projects; what is contingency in that?'

'You dolled out N75m to someone for lobbying; what are we lobbying for?

'This is reckless spending; we cannot ask you to refund them but what we would do is to canvass the scrapping of the Service Wide Votes Account to put an end to the wastage of government money.'

But, Okogu, who defended the expenditure, claimed that they were approved by the Presidency.

He also opposed the scrapping of the service wide votes.

Okogu argued that the money was kept to address emergencies not anticipated by government in the course of the year.

He added that without such votes, government would be helpless in emergency situations.