“Massive” – Between the CBN and the Finance Ministry, another 44billion takes flight

by Isi Esene

It appears all is not well with the FG’s Special Intervention Funds on Solid Minerals as the Senate Committee on Public Accounts declared over N44billion missing. It also alleged massive discrepancies and violations in its disbursement and utilisation.

The committee revealed that the money was wrongly utilised to fund projects unrelated to solid minerals and with no evidence of repayments. It gave a telling example of about N4billion disbursed as loan to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to fund the Gurara Water project.

Others include various sums which were disbursed as loans to other ministries and agencies to fund projects like monetisation payment to federal civil servants, aviation, COJA, OPEC, Conference of Ministers, and even to fund Joint Venture Companies (JVCs).

The committee also found out a contradiction between the Federal Ministry Finance records and that of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to Tribune, the chairman of the committee, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, yes, Lawan, declared that “certainly, there are massive discrepancies between the CBN figures and that of the Ministry of Finance.”

He added that it was not good enough and was in violation of existing laws.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Danladi Kifasi and the Deputy Director Finance, Suleiman Tahir, attempted to explain away the discrepancies, noting that they were yet to carry out a bank reconciliation which they believe would sort out the problem. The committee, however, would have none of that, insisting that the missing period between 2002 and 2005 might not necessarily have any effect on the discrepancies uncovered.

The committee was particularly irked to discover that the fund, since inception, has never been used for what it was created for, which is to fund solid mineral projects and open up the non-oil sector.

We hope this inquiry doesn’t go the way of the Fuel Subsidy probe, with accusations flying back and forth while the economy suffers.

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