House Tackles Budget Office Over N16trn Service Wide Votes


BEVERLY HILLS, March 05, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives Wednesday querried the N16trillion Service Wide Vote (SWV) administered by the presidency between 2004 and 2013.

The House Committee on Public Accounts, which held an investigative session with the Director General of the Budget Office (BO), Dr.

Bright Okogu, said there were a lot of irregularities in the releases from the BO and actual receipts by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The chairman of the committee, Hon.
Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, who made these revelations at the investigative hearing said the committee was worried that records of N5.

1billion out of the budget expenses from the SWV were not comprehensive.

According to him, N1.
28 billion out of the N5.
1 billion was expended on the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) led by Gen.

Theophilus Y.
Danjuma in 2010.
Giving details of the expenditure by the PAC, Olamilekan said the committee discovered that out of the N1.

2 billion, N700 million was used for hotel reservations at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

He therefore summoned the management of Transorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja to appear before the committee next week and give details of its business dealings with PAC.

Olamilekan said: 'We found out that over 70 percent of this money (N1.

28billion) was spent on reservation on accommodation at the Transcorp Hilton.

'We are inviting Transcorp Hilton to appear and clarify how much was spent on hotel reservation by the Presidential Advisory Committee.

Also, the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation that supervised the activities of PAC would have to testify.

' The chairman also questioned the continuous operation of the SWV, which he said was instead encouraging corruption.

While tesfifying before the committee, the Director General of the Budget Office, Dr.

Bright Okogu, explained that his office was not responsible for the Presidential Advisory Committee and therefore had no answer to the query, adding that he only releases funds to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government when he is given the instruction to do so.

The DG noted that PAC was an ad-hoc committee, and is no longer in existence and it was being managed by the office of secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), saying "I don't know how much they spent.

My office has submitted to your committee a detailed document on the issue.

" The committee however insisted that since the Auditor General had queried the Budget Office, he (Okogu) should do a letter informing the committee that it was the SGF that was responsible for the Presidential Committee.

The committee equally looked into other issues concerning the SWV including N1billion expended by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on printing of ballot papers by a South African firm, N5.

7 billion released to the National Hajj Commission (NAHCOM), N65 million spent by the Minister of Justice on the ministry's participation at the 3rd Conference of State Parties to the United Nations and five per cent Redemption Fund meant for the defraying of the cost of pension for Federal Government workers.