Lawan: One FG Agency Spent N1bn On Welfare

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An unnamed federal government agency spent N1 billion on welfare, Senate President Ahmad Lawan has revealed.

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Mr Lawan disclosed this while commenting on complaints by the Senate’s Public Accounts Committee regarding recalcitrant federal agencies refused to appear before it to defend queries raised by the auditor general of the federation in a 2015 report.

Mr Lawan, explaining the rot in federal agencies, said, “From my experience as chairman of the public accounts committee in this Senate, most of the agencies of government do not adhere to the established accounting mechanisms that will ensure accountability and transparency sent to them by the office of the accountant general.

“We should go ahead and check the accounting systems established in most of these agencies. In my experience, there was an agency of government in 2005 or 2006 that spent N1 billion on what they called welfare.”

The senate president admitted that “there is no system to stop this kind of thing.”
Encouraging the legislators not to give up in carrying out their oversight function regarding the agencies, Mr Lawan said, “So, we should go ahead, especially the major agencies, and look at the systems they follow so that we stop people from doing the wrong things before we start to look for a remedy.”

Mr Lawan urged the senators not to allow the recalcitrance of the agencies to stop them from holding the executive arm of government to account.

“This is one of our major responsibilities as a parliament, to hold the executive to account. Whoever is given the responsibility and the trust of running any agency with public funds must be accountable to the parliament on behalf of the people.

“You have indicated a certain number of ministries, departments, and agencies that failed to come to the committee after invitation. I want you to go through your documents, the invitation letters with reminders. This Senate will publish the names of these agencies for the public to know,” he stated.

The legislator further stated that the Senate would insist “any public servant or civil servant that is given public fund for the public good and has questions to answer and refuses to appear to answer” should leave office.

He added, “Because all of us are supposed to be accountable to the people and, therefore, if someone feels that he is not going to be accountable, then that person has no business remaining in office.”

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