The House of Representatives has given the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Madein, a 72-hour ultimatum to submit a comprehensive report on the utilization of the N100 billion COVID-19 intervention funds released by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari to various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) between 2020 and 2022. The ultimatum was issued by the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Bamidele Salam (PDP-Osun), who expressed disappointment at the AGF’s failure to comply with the committee’s resolution to submit the report on October 27, 2023.
Salam emphasized that the House had tasked the Committee with investigating the “expenditure incurred under the COVID-19 interventions, especially in the year 2020 and up to 2022.” A letter had been sent to the Accountant General, requesting details of all releases in line with the Appropriation Act and other interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria to various government MDAs.
Salam explained, “That letter, I was duly informed, showed that submission is expected on or before October 27, 2023. As we speak, that input has not been received from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.”
Consequently, Salam directed the AGF to provide the report before the close of work on Friday, November 3, 2023. The House’s resolution came as a response to a motion titled ‘Alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 intervention funds from 2020 to 2022,’ which highlighted the alleged mismanagement and diversion of COVID-19 funds earmarked for various MDAs.
Nyampa Zakari, who led the debate on the motion, underscored the critical role of the National Assembly in uncovering corruption in the use of public funds. He noted the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives, jobs, and economic opportunities, both nationally and globally.
Zakari highlighted that the pandemic led to disruptions in economic activities, resulting in measures such as lockdowns, travel restrictions, and business closures. In response to these disruptions, the federal government initiated various programs, policies, and interventions to support families, small businesses, and public corporations.
Zakari also mentioned that significant funds had been allocated for COVID-19 responses in the 2020 Appropriation Act, supplemented by additional funds from international donor agencies. However, concerns have arisen regarding the proper accountability of these funds, as reports indicate that funds for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and unaccounted for by various government agencies.
Ahmed Jaha, while supporting the motion, stressed the importance of investigating the mismanagement and diversion of COVID-19 funds, given the substantial amount expended in combating the pandemic. He called for a thorough investigation into the matter.
This ultimatum issued by the House of Representatives reflects the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in handling funds allocated for critical interventions such as the COVID-19 response.