BAYELSA ASSEMBLY GRILLS SSG OVER MDGS FUNDS

By NBF News
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The Bayelsa State House of Assembly for six hours yesterday grilled the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Gideon Ekuewei over the N3 billion Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) funds suspected to have been misappropriated.

The House Committee on Public Accounts had on Wednesday summoned Ekuewei over the fund after the Senior Special Assistant to President Jonathan on MDG, Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair had expressed disappointment over the non-existence of MDGs projects in the state and the failure of the office of the SSG to conduct media around project sites in the state.

At the hearing conducted behind closed doors, Ekuewei had insisted that the state government had only received N1.6 billion noting that MDGs projects were spread across the state.  Ekuewei, accompanied to the hearing by eight officials with loads of files presented video evidence to prove that the projects were in existence citing projects in Sabagreia and Okordia.

He told the committee led by its Chairman, Chief Sam Ateke (Brass 1) that there was no controversy as the state government only received  N1.6 billion and not N3 billion which led to his being summoned to the House. According to Ekuewei,   the remaining balance of N1.4 billion was the counterpart fund from the Federal Government which the state had not been able to access.

A member of the committee, Chief Amlayon Yuosuo, told newsmen that the hearing before the Public Accounts Committee was cordial, 'a confirmation of the relationship between the House and the executive.' Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has hailed the invitation of the SSG on the probe of the alleged reckless spending of the fund. The ACN National Youth Leader, Miriki Ebikibina said the probe coming after the expression of disappointment by  Hajiya Amina Zubair was a welcome development.

According to him, it was sad, unfortunate and a serious reflection of the grave ineptitude that characterised execution of projects in the state. He said it was not only an indictment but also counterproductive for the SSG to have failed in his statutory function to let the world know the projects sites in the state.

Ebikibina urged the lawmakers not to sweep the probe under the carpet like others before it as Bayelsans would want to know its outcome.