By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, took a swipe at the over N44 billion the Military Pensions Board expended without budgetary provisions between 2015 and 2017.
The Senate described the Service Wide Vote, SWV under which the Military Pensions Board gets its allocation as a blind way of spending, saying that it was even bigger than the budget.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when the Chairman, Military Pensions Board, Brigadier- General Adekunle Adigun Adesope appeared before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts to explain what had been released so far, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) said that there was serious disparity in the figures that had been made available to the Committee.
However, Chairman of Military Pensions Board, Brigadier-General, Adekunle Adigun Adesope said that the committee’s observation was not correct and was more of wrong impression, adding that the Board spends N9.2 billion monthly for 92,000 military pensioners as he did not know how the Federal Government came about payment of pensions from SWV instead of the budget.
According to Urhoghide, the Board was evasive in response to the committee’s demands on payment of pensions from SWV.
instead of budgetary provisions as is the normal practice, just as he relied on figures showing that over N44 billion of SWV was released to the Military Pensions Board between 2015 and 2017 by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, wondered how it came about without approval of the National Assembly.
He noted “What I observed was some replies you gave to us are not satisfactory. In your presentation, you were talking of N169 million. What we are asking is how you spent N44 billion from Service Wide Votes.
“Releases from the service wide vote were what we are concerned and not the budgetary provisions. A number of times we invited, you so that we can put this in a proper perspective, we have not been able to see you.
“In explaining how this fund was spent, don’t give us nebulous explanation. Be very clear so that in the next one week, we willbe able to submit our report to the red chambers.”
A member of the Committee, Senator Foster Ogola insisted that the board must respond to the Committee’s inquiries, adding, “We have a letter written to you and it was specific on service wide vote. Are you confirming to us that you don’t have line budgets for your pensioners?”
Senator Phillip Gyunka explained that the report submitted by the Board was haphazard, saying that the Board’s Director of Finance and Administration was doing things wrongly.
Meanwhile, the Committee Chairman has asked officials from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to disclose the amount released so far to enable the board deal with possible disparity.