FG recovers N34b from accounts of MDAs

Federal Government has so far recovered N34 billion out of the N58 billion traced to illegal accounts being operated by some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

The MDAs were alleged to have been generating revenues and diverting them instead of remitting them into the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Briefing newsmen in Abuja Monday, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the Federal Government was taking further measures to ensure that government gets what is due to it.

“We had to act fast, as agencies that are revenue generating refused to comply with the provision of remitting 25 per cent of such funds to the treasury. We pleaded with them, tried to dialogue with them, but it was not working. So we had to take some drastic measures.

“We have so far recovered N34 billion of such monies and have factored it into cash backing for second quarter release for budget 2013,” she said.

Federal Ministry of Finance had last month announced that it had traced about N58 billion generated by some government agencies but not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

This came weeks after the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) said it engaged the services of 53 consultants to verify and reconcile revenue collection and remittances by collecting banks engaged by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) between January 2008 and June 2012.

According to a statement by the Minister of Finance, some agencies “that generate independent revenue, in collusion with some banks, have refused to remit monies to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government which they are obliged by law to do.”

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The ministry said from Monday, June 17, 2013, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, in exercise of its powers under the extant laws and rules, will close such accounts in all banks.

This process of systematic closure, the ministry said, will continue until all monies that should be in the Consolidated Revenue Fund are retrieved.

Okonjo-Iweala lamented that the unwholesome practice has persisted despite the efforts to encourage the agencies and the affected banks to do the right thing.

“Rather than comply, the agencies and banks, through their lawyers have engaged in all manner of legal subterfuges to ensure that monies which are due to the Federal Government are not remitted.

“The objective of this conspiracy against the national interest is clear: to keep government monies indefinitely in accounts earning interest for individuals at the expense of the Federal Government and the Nigerian people.

“This is totally unacceptable and the Federal Ministry of Finance is determined that this practice must end forthwith,” she added.

While announcing the engagement of the consultants, Chairman of RMAFC, Elias Mbam, said the commission was empowered by Paragraph 32 (a) Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution to monitor the accruals into and disbursement from the Federation Account.

Mbam said the commission observed some irregularities in the remittances of revenue from the collecting banks engaged by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), which it views as a serious leakage to the Federation Accounts, hence the need for the verification exercise.

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Another report from Abuja on Monday said about N50 billion has been released to the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) as part of effort to bridge the wide gap in the electrical engineering programmes in the education sector.

A statement from the Ministry of Power said the Minister, Chinedu Nebo, who disclosed this while making a presentation to the Board of Niger Delta Power Holding Company of Nigeria (NDPHC), operators of National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), stressed the need for adequate funding for the institution.

He was reported to have said about 500 students currently in the institute are about to be graduated and expressed the hope that they would boost available manpower in the industry.

Vice President Namadi Sambo who chaired the meeting commended the Ministry of Power for setting up the NAPTIN and undertaking the training of personnel in the power sector.

Sambo said NAPTIN would be able to train the much needed manpower in the power sector, which would be operating the power plants even after privatisation.

He noted that the institution should be upgraded to attract the patronage of other companies within and outside the country, adding that the private sector should be involved.

He frowned at some contractors who have not completed their work, especially the work at the Gwagwalada sub-station which is said to be at 90 per cent completion, stressing that though the timetable for commissioning has been drawn, he cannot take the President to commission the power project that would fail immediately after commissioning.

“This administration wants to deliver electricity to Nigerians,” he declared.

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