Members of the House of Representative Committee on Science and Technology have tasked the Federal Ministry of Finance over non-release of appropriated funds to the Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency, NNMDA.
Lamenting over the issue, the Committee members also expressed concern that out of N112 million budgetary allocations to the Agency in the 2013 budget, only N24 million has been released by the third quarter of the year.
Speaking during a working visit to the Agency in Lagos, the Committee Chairman, Abiodun Akinlade who described the situation as a “clear lapse” on the part of the Executive, called for immediate release of funds to the agency to enable it meet its mandate. “It is surprising that by July no reasonable release of funds has been made by the Executive. This has shown executive lapses which we feel should be corrected in the shortest period. This is the third quarter of the year and the total funds for this year is about N114 million only about 24 million which is about 25 per cent has just been released to them.
Further, Akinlade said: “We have the money but why are they not releasing the money to the agencies is what the National Assembly is yet to understand. There is no way these agencies can function well if their funds are not released to them.” Calling on the Federal Ministry of Finance to urgently release funds, he regretted that even the personnel and overhead funds released are not sufficient to pay workers their full salaries.
Akinlade argued that the National Assembly will not pass a budget without making sure that the needed money is available. “We believe that we have a lot of money to meet up with the budget.”
Earlier, Director-General of the Agency, Dr. Tamuno Ibuomi Okujagu said capital projects of the Agency had been hampered by poor release of funds to a shortfall of N800, 000 monthly. “We can no longer pay salaries. What we do in order to keep our staff is by paying 75 percent across board.”
Okujiagu listed some of the projects embarked by the Agency to include; development of a modern laboratory to assist in providing scientific and technical support in the development of traditional medicine products, facilitate research, training an promote valuation addition. “This is aimed at assisting practitioners in the development and production of safe and efficacious therapies including the development of appropriate low cost process technology and formulation of standardized low cost highly essential herbal remedies for some health challenges like cough, malaria and the control of mosquito, arthritis, topical dermatitis and health tonic among others,” he stated.