The House of Representatives on Thursday approached Nigerians to ascend and interest for the acquiescence of Kemi Adeosun, Finance Minister; Godwin Emefiele, legislative head of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Abraham Nwankwo, Director General of Debt Management Office (DMO), for neglecting to show up before the House specially appointed advisory group set up to explore the over N700 billion given to states as bailout.
The House had set up the board to disentangle the secret behind the dispensing and use of the said support given by the Federal Government as bailout to states for the settlement of unpaid compensations, tips and annuities.?
However, the absence of the officials stalled the first session of the hearing as the committee rejected any representation from them on the ground of incompetence.
Venting its anger, the committee said, “The attitudes of these top government officials show who is mismanaging the economy of the country. Nigerians should rise up and call for their resignation immediately.
“If it is to bring virement they would rush down but now they are to come and explain to Nigerians how the bailout running to over N700 billion were disbursed, they are sending representatives, they are only interested in borrowing, this has to stop, this is a government that is fighting corruption, this is impunity of the highest order and where there is impunity all sorts of things will happen”, committee chairman, Sadiq Ibrahim (APC, Adamawa), said.
While the finance minister didn’t send any representation, the CBN governor was represented by one Umar Abubakar, an Executive Director; the DG, DMO, was also represented by Oladele Afolabi as against the expectation of the committee.
The committee also disclosed that following the directive of the House to carry out the investigation into the handling of the bailout fund by state governors, it quickly wrote to the minister, the CBN and the DMO demanding for relevant documents that would assist it in carrying out the assignment, lamenting that “the responses received from them were negative”.
In his contribution, Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi) said, “This is not acceptable, we are to serve the interest of our people, when funds were disbursed as bailout to settle workers’ salaries, gratuities and pensions but the monies were diverted to other things, that is wrong, people are suffering, people are dying, and you refuse to give us the necessary information.
“The information you are supposed to give to us, you are hiding them, this is against the Freedom of Information Act, we are going to conduct a public hearing on this matter during which the committee will invite all the workers’ unions in the whole federation, they will tell the whole world how much was collected as bailout and how much was paid to them”, Karimi threatened.
Also contributing, Yinka Ajayi, who described the action of the absentee officials as an insult on the National Assembly as an institution added that all of them must be compelled to appear before the committee in person in order to tackle the matter at once.
?Other members of the committee expressed serious concerns over what they described as the “lukewarm attitudes of the officials in treating the disbursement and utilisation of the bailout funds”, stating further that the officials should be reminded that they were government employees being paid with tax payers’ money to whom they should be accountable.
Ruling on the matter, chairman Ibrahim ordered the trio of the finance minister, the CBN governor and the DG, DMO, to appear physically before it, with all relevant documents earlier demanded from them, to be able to carry out its mandate, adding that the officers that appeared were not competent to do justice to the matter at stake.
It would be recalled that about 28 states approached the Federal Government for assistance on the payment of wages to workers and retirement benefits as well as gratuities of civil servants which government acceded to, but the funds were allegedly diverted by some governors of the affected states to other undisclosed areas.