The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on monday expressed dissatisfaction with the insufficient and inadequate document submitted by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments over the alleged mismanagement of N75 billion allocated to it as COVID-19 Intervention funds.
It was recalled that the Committee chaired by Representative Bamidele Salam has ordered the Ministry to refund N75 billion allocated to it as COVID-19 intervention funds after the non-appearance of officials of the ministry.
In his opening remarks, The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ambassador Nura Abba Rimi said he inherited the assets and liabilities of the Ministry on the 21st of January 2024.
Rimi apologized for the failure of the ministry to appear before the Constitutional Committee three consecutive times.
“Mr. Chairman let us even look at the issue of whether or not we should listen to the ministry and that for me is very important, I am the mover of the motion because for me it was a clear case of disregard for the Committee and National Assembly that is why I moved that motion. Having given that ministry this number of time to appear and they failed to appear, it shows clearly that the ministry do not have anything to say about the expenditure of the money and that is why I moved that motion and it was duly seconded and the motion was passed by the committee and I am sure that if not because of the break that we had, that the house would’ve considered the position of the committee, having come here this morning and I saw Ministry of Industry, trade and investment on our schedule, I think we are looking at other things outside COVID, maybe we are looking at issues concerning Auditors General’s queries on that ministry for a certain year, when I look the schedule this morning, it was still COVID, I don’t think it is proper, going by our own practice that if a house has ruled on a matter that we need to bring it back again, maybe because of the magnanimity of the Chairman that he granted based on some reason and you come, again there is a background here that the chamber has saying before you appear do a writing submission which again was abnormal for a matter that has been ruled over by the Committee, do a writing submission the chairman was just trying to be kind, let’s still give you fair hearing even when we have ruled, honestly it should have been something we need to discuss and consider whether or not we should receive any document or anything.
“Mr. Chairman in his way to assist tried to give you a fair hearing and he told you to bring a document as we speak now by our rule I have a right to have a copy of whatever was submitted, it is only one copy that is submitted, we don’t know, so my question here sir, Chairman, why do the ministry think we should reconsider our position on this matter” Hon Bassey Akiba explained
According to the Chairman, “Honorable Colleague why I even allowed them to come at all was because at times in this our assignment too, we have to look for a way of balancing interest, when the permanent secretary reached out to me and he told me he was barely a week in office, that was about two weeks ago and that he was hearing the matter for the very first time, even though I know by practice, he inherits all liabilities and assets and I thought on humans consideration that we should give him the benefit of the doubt, to come here and if he is able to convince the committee to listen to him, we listen to him, but like chairman of rules said by our rule when a motion has been taking and carried, there as to be a motion for recition of such a resolution, it is only when the motion is carried that we can review the decision.
“Honorable member we need to be guided, I honestly do not think we should even take any motion to re-seen that decision yet until they have properly submitted their records and defend because if they defend, we may still find a need to stand by that resolution, so the only thing that I will just plead with the members if we agree, is for us to allow them to present their complete document, this does not satisfy the template you were given. It is a worthless piece of document, it doesn’t say anything.”
To this end, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to allow the Ministry to submit a complete document within 7 working days and ordered that the Managing Director of Bank Of Industry should be available in person on the next hearing date.