Ahead of the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and other related offences, ICPC told the Senate yesterday that the N13.59trillion 2021 budget was padded by the various Ministries , Departments and Agencies ( MDAs) with duplicated projects worth N300billion.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during an interface session with the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos West led Senate Committee on Finance, the ICPC Chairman , Professor Bolaji Owasanoye disclosed that projects duplication worth N100billion were also inserted into the N17.12trillion 2022 budget by some MDAs aside N49.9billion tracked as salary for ghost workers between January and June this year .
According to the ICPC boss , the N300billion duplicated projects in the 2021 budget and N100billion in the 2022 budget were tracked through thorough scrutinization carried out on approved projects for the various MDAs.
He said,” N300billion would have been wasted by the Federal government on duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 budget and N100billion for same purpose in the current fiscal year if not tracked and intercepted by ICPC.
“The same preemptive move, saved the country from spending N49.9billion for salaries of ghost workers put on fictitious pay roll by the fraudulent MDAs between January and June this year.
“Names of MDAs involved in projects duplications running into intercepted billions of Naira and fictitious pay rolls , are available and will be forwarded to the committee.
“The good thing about the preemptive moves made by us is that monies for the fraudulent acts were prevented from being released to the affected MDAs and it is gratifying that the Finance Ministry and Accountant General Office cooperated with us.”
Professor Bolaji Owasanoye who advised relevant committees of the National Assembly to be on the look out for such projects duplication in the proposed N19.76trillion 2023 budget, said, “From our own end , detection of such projects are done by verifying their locations and names , upon which we tell the appropriate authorities not to release wrongly budgetted monies for them.”
On his part, the Committee through its Chairman, Adeola however expressed its satisfaction with the presentation of the ICPC boss, just as it said that the operational cost of the agency will be increased from N1.8billion, adding, “This committee is impressed by proactive ways your commission is adopting in the fight against corruption.
“Your submissions clearly show that all hope is not lost for our dear country as far as fighting corruption is concerned.
“Your operational cost which is N1.8billion will be increased as required impetus for more proactive measures against corrupt practices across the various MDAs.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a holistic investigation into the activities of the National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, Itakpe, Kogi State that has been non functional, moribund since 2008 making it fourteen years and no production, yet it has a staff strength of 700 that are being paid monthly.
The probe Committee set up by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Olamilekan Adeola is headed by Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East with a mandate to carry out a proper investigation into the Organisation and submit report in the next two weeks.
The probe was sequel to the presentation before the Committee by NIOMCO Sole Administrator, Augustine Nkechika who told the Senators that though the company had been grounded for fourteen years now, yet it has its budget approved every year and the 700 staff are being paid their salaries every month, just as he disclosed that the company occupies 8,000 square metres of land.
According to the Senate, the Committee will come up with how the N1.4 billion released to the Company was utilized, on what and how the money was spent despite its zero performance since 2008.(Vanguard)