The Senate has threatened that it will not allocate funds to over 100 Federal Government’s Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in the 2023 budget for not honouring the invitations of its Committee on Public Accounts investigating the funds released to them from the Service Wide Vote (SWV) from 2017 to 2021.
The releases from the SWV to the MDAs were put at N1.9 trillion by the Chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC), Matthew Urhoghide, at a media briefing after the zero budgetary allocation threat was made by Senate President Ahmad Lawan at plenary.
Lawan gave the warming after naming over 100 “recalcitrant MDAs” that have refused to honour the Upper Chamber’s summons.
Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) submitted the names to the Senate President during plenary yesterday.
The committee chairman had, through a Point of Order, drawn the Senate’s attention to the “vehement refusal” of the affected agencies to appear before his committee to respond to queries raised against them by the Auditor General of the Federation since 2015.
He said all efforts to get the accounting officers of the affected MDAs to defend the queries had proved abortive.
Urhoghide said: “The agencies that have vehemently refused to appear before our committee: this list of agencies and the amounts that are against their names are staggering.
“I crave your indulgence that we invite them through your order, either by way of warrant of arrest or anything else, so that these agencies can come, so that we can complete our report and submit to this Senate.”
Reacting, Lawan said: “I have some idea of what you are talking about. My worry is that when you write them to appear and they failed, there should be a correspondence. When they fail to appear, you give a new date. When they fail to appear, we won’t give them any money. We hold their budget until they come.
“Any public officer must be willing to give account before the National Assembly. If they feel too big, they should be willing to quit.
“Coming under Order 42, 95, which clearly explains the mandate of the Committee on Public Accounts of the Senate, your Point of Order is sustained fully and completely.
“You are right to bring to the plenary your grievances. Secondly, I once served as Chairman of Public Accounts Committee for eight years.
“Reading this list at plenary gives the agencies concerned the opportunity to know if they were not aware before, for those that may claim ignorance. I am taking the opportunity here to advise that in the next one week, if the name of any agency is here, that agency should reach out to the Committee on Public Accounts of the Senate to sort out when the agency would appear before the committee.
“If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reasons are given, we will slash the 2023 budget of such MDAs.”
Some of the MDAs, according to Lawan, include: the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Interior, Budget Office of the Federation, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ministry of Defence and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs.
Also affected are: the State House, Presidential Air Fleet, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Nigeria Police Force and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Others are: Ministry of Petroleum Resources, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Federal Ministry of Health, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Civil Service Commission, Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority, National Health Insurance Scheme, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ministry of Environment, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC), National Security Adviser (NSA), among others.