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Unanswered queries: INEC, MDAs, others risk zero allocation

The Senate has threatened zero budgetary allocation for over 100 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, if they fail to appear before the Public Accounts Committee with the next one week.

The Nation reported that the Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave this warning, during Wednesday plenary session, after reeling out over 100 names of “recalcitrant MDAs” evading summons submitted to him at plenary by the Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South).

Urhoghide stated that these MDAs had “vehement refused” to appear before his committee to respond to queries raised against them by the Auditor General of the Federation since 2015.

He said, “The agencies that have vehemently refused to appear before our committee, this list of agencies and the amount that is against their name are staggering.

“I crave your indulgence that we invite them through your order either by way of warrant of arrest or anything so that these agencies can come so that we can complete our report and submit to this Senate.”

In his reaction, the senate president said, “I have some idea of what you are talking about. My worry is that when you write them to appear and the person 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 wiling to quit.

“Coming under Order 42, 95 which clearly explain 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 now know if they were not aware before, for those that may claim ignorance and 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.”

Lawan, went on to reel out these list of MDAs, including: the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministry of Interior, Nigerian Army, Ministry of Defence, Nigeria Police Force, National Emergency Management Agency, State House, Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority and Nigerian Waterways Authority.

Others are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Ministry of Health, Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Tertiary Education Trust Fund and Nigerian Defence Academy, among others.

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