…Threatens to order arrest of heads of 61 agencies
By IHEANACHO NWOSU and CHUKS AKUNNA, Abuja
House of Representatives yesterday accused the executive of deliberately excluding foreign ‘grants’ from the 2013 Budget. The observation was coming as it also threatened to arrest heads of 61 Federal Government agencies over refusal to answer queries of financial misconduct by the Auditor General of the Federation.
Addressing newsmen, spokesman of the House, Zakari Mohammed, said that there were some unresolved issues about the 2013 Budget, questioning the decision to exclude foreign grants in the estimate. Mohammed, who was reacting to a question that the House was handling the budget, presented to it on October 9, with levity, said that it was in the course of working on the budget that it was discovered that foreign grants was not accommodated in the appropriation. He said: “We are working on the budget, we have concluded debate on the general principle of the budget, the committees are looking at it right now.
We were able to discover that grants were not included in the 2013 budget.” The House spokesman denied the allegation that members of the lower Chamber were angry with President Goodluck Jonathan, for failing to lobby them before and after the presentation of the budget. According to him, the insistence of the House on $80 dollar oil benchmark instead of the $75 given by the executive was not based on perceived frosty relationship with the presidency. “I don’t know where this rumour of fighting the Presidency comes from. The $80 oil benchmark was done in the general interest of Nigerians.
We have renowned economists and accountants here and they know what the issue is all about, we are not acting from the position of ignorance.” Lending support to Mohammed’s submissions, Chairman House committee on Public Accounts, Rep. Solomon Adeola, ACN Lagos, said the House was not waging any war against the executive but was only fighting some constitutional violations in the system.
For instance, he disclosed that the Auditor General has queried the conduct of some agencies in the last couple of years and his committee would go after the affected agencies especially as they have refused to respond to issues raised by the Auditor General. Adeola said: “The Auditor General queried the Federal Inland Revenue and 60 other agencies, they have not answered the query, we are asking questions and we will ask for their arrest if we dont get satisfactory response.”