As Heads of other agencies use hospitalization as excuse to escape probe
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate on Friday, took a swipe at the officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) over meagre remittance of N44 5billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 2019 out of N2.4trillion generated.
Trouble reared its head on Friday during the interactive session when the Senator Olamilekan Adeola, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos West Led Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning on projected revenues estimated in the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP) requested to have records of the agency’s internally generated revenues in 2019 and projections for 2021.
Responding, the Director of DPR, Engr Sarki Auwalu said that a total of N2.4trillion was generated by DPR in 2019 but N44 5billion was remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
He was represented by the Head of Planning of the agency, Johnson Ajewole.
Not happy by the wide gap in what was realised and remitted, the Senators described his submission as unacceptable.
Meanwhile, heads of many of the other revenue-generating agencies invited by the Senate’s joint committee on Finance and Planning for interactive sessions on their 2021 revenues projections, refused to appear on alleged grounds of indisposition and hospitalization.
On the DPR, the Committee members were further angered even with efforts made by the Head of Finance and Accounts of the Petroleum Agency, Mrs Lilian Ufondu to explain the wide gap in revenues and remittance.
According to her, out of the N2.4trillion generated by DPR in 2019, N88billion was removed as 4% collection fee out of which N5.72billion was also remitted while the balance was used for overhead.
Persistent questions to her by the Committee Chairman and members on what happened to the over N2trillion balance were not satisfactorily answered as she was only able to mention overhead and operational costs without specific figures tied to them.
According to her, as of July this year, DPR has generated N1.13trillion and projecting N3.4trillion as revenue generation for 2021 out which N139billion will be taken out as 4% collection fee.
Angered by the submissions and alleged disjointed records presentations, the committee ordered that the agency must reappear before it unfailingly on Tuesday next week and must be led by its Director, Sarki Auwalu who was alleged to have traveled abroad.
Adeola particularly said: ” Information and records presented to us by both Directors or heads of departments that have spoken are not clear and insufficient as regards the budget performance of DPR within the last three years and revenue projection for 2021.
“For this committee to do a proper and thorough job, comprehensive records of such budget performances must be made available latest by Monday next week, upon which your Director and other top management staff, will appear before us again on Tuesday next week.
“Also, well-detailed proposals for revenues generated by the agency for 2021-2022 must be included in the expected comprehensive records “
Efforts made by journalists to make the troubled agency’s head of Finance and Accounts, Lilian Ufondu , explain her inability and that of her counterpart on Planning, Johnson Ajewole to make satisfactory submissions before the committee, proved abortive, as she lamented that the day was a bad one for her and DPR.
She said, “I’m sad and is a bad day for us. We are told to come back and we shall return on Tuesday next week”
Like DPR, heads of other agencies like Nigeria Inland Waterways ( NIWA), Bank of Industry ( BOI), and Standard Organization of Nigeria ( SON) were also not present for the interactive session and accordingly ordered by the committee to reappear on Monday next week.
While NIWA’s boss was said to have traveled abroad, those of BOI and SON were alleged to either be indisposed or hospitalized.
When asked by the Committee’s chairman, the hospital the Director-General of SON, Osita Aboloma, is being attended to, from the Director of Budget, David Okon, he said ” I don’t know”, which led to the eruption of laughter in the hall by all those present.