Nigerian lawmakers wants to know about N2.2tn foreign, domestic debts utilisation

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has asked the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to forward the financial statement on the utilisation of the N2.2trillion revenue accruing from foreign and domestic debts raised by Debt Management Office (DMO).

Chairman of the Committee, Oluwole Oke, made the request based on a query issued against the DMO for the 2018 financial year.

Oke said apart from details of the utilisation of the fund, the Committee also wanted to know the reason it reflected in the DMO’s financial statement.

He asked why the office could not account for the money that was appropriated for, which also did not appear in the books of the OAGF.

The lawmaker said, “We should hold you liable to the actual sum released to you. If it is in the law that the DMO had a budget of N2.2tn, now where is the money? Who got it? Was it released? This is a law and the law says that N2.2tn had been given to DMO. Was the money given to the DMO? No. Who took the money? Accountant General? Why? If you are not the manager, then it should not appear in your books but the books of the Accountant General of the Federation.”

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Members of the Committee, at its investigative hearing on Friday February 26, 2021, asked if the money did not come from the DMO to the National Assembly for approval or it was only discovered at the National Assembly.

The Director General of DMO, Patience Oniha, while confirming that the sum of N2.2trillion accrued as interest (cost) from the loans secured by the office for the Federal Government, stated that only the sum of N721,251,798 was allocated to DMO.

On the non-rendition of the audited accounts, Oniha, who was represented by the Director of Finance and Accounts, DMO, Mrs Feyi Olumide-Akinyemi, also said the office’s audited account had been submitted to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, for approval.

She said, “It does not come to our books. It does not come to our account. It does not reflect anywhere in our books. We do not have access to the other one and that is why we always say it should be separated.

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“During each process, the budget office requires the DMO to give them a projection of interest payments. So, these are the interest projections we made that the government will bear on our domestic and external debts and then a provision to take care of local contractors which is the sinking fund.”

The DMO boss stated that nothing was released to the office for capital expenditure in 2018, but fund was later released in 2019.

She said out of a total sum of N721,251,798, the sum of N435,768,793 was for personnel cost, N110,883,005 for overhead cost and N174.6million for capital expenditure.

Oniha said in the year under review, the DMO received 89.74 per cent of the sum for personnel cost, which was released through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, while the remaining amount was mopped up automatically.

She said out of the overhead cost, the office got 58 per cent of the budget, which is N64million, while the balance was also mopped up at the end of the year.

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Oniha also disclosed that the DMO currently has 110 staff members on its nominal roll, for which the sum of N64m was released in 2019.

Oke, therefore, directed the clerk to the committee, to write a letter demanding the financial records on the utilisation of the N2.2trillion.

He also requested for all relevant payment vouchers issues by the DMO for all its financial transactions for the years under review.

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