By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday gave Director General, DG, of National Arts Gallery, NAG, Mr Abubakar Muku 24 hours to make available all documents used in awarding a N7 million contract to train 50 Curators within 24 hours.
The Committee chaired by Kingsley Chinda, PDP, Rivers hinged its position on the Auditor General to the Federation’s, AuGF queries of 2013.
The lawmakers in an interactive session with Alhaji Muku raised observations based on the queries that the agency paid out N7 million for a training programme in December 2013 and paid fully within 48 hours to Rockages, the contractor.
They asserted that it was virtually impossible for a contract to be awarded and got payment effected same day in the Nigerian public sector if there were no other incentives. In his response, the DG said “the entire money was paid because we had to pay 25 Curators and 6 zonal coordinators their daily transport allowances.”
Solomon Maren at this point reminded the DG that “you awarded a contract on December 11, 2013 and on same day you paid and the contractor’s account was credited in 48 hours. Don’t you have a petty cash book and why must you pay 100 percent to the contractor? Is that not a clear violation of the Financial Regulation Act procedure?
Responding, the DG told the lawmakers that his agency did not operate a petty cash book and insisted the entire money was paid because civil servants needed to travel to the venue of the programme.
Maren then said: “You paid on December 11 and concluded payments, makes the whole thing suspicious. This is the method they apply to ensure all the monies appropriated are exhausted as the year draws to a close. Even the consultant was paid DTA and we have seen where genuine contractors pursue payments and they are not paid. DG, we are not in a hurry, just get us the contract file, list of attendees of the programme and the certificates of all the participants within the next 24 hours.”
The DG and his team are expected to appear before the Committee today with the requested documents.