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Reps grill NEPC over N44bn COVID-19 fund

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The House of Representatives grilled today quizzed Mrs Nonye Ayeni, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, regarding the utilization of the allocated N44 billion for the COVID-19 intervention fund in 2020. 

Chair of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Rep. Bamidele Salam, expressed deep concern over the NEPC’s failure to provide a satisfactory account of its stewardship concerning the public funds.

Despite acknowledging Mrs. Ayeni’s recent appointment, lawmakers were dissatisfied with the continual reference to the Bank of Industry when seeking details about the fund’s utilization from the Deputy Director of Finance. 

To ensure full accountability for the N44 billion COVID-19 intervention fund, the committee invited the management of the Bank of Industry.

Mrs. Ayeni responded by confirming that the details of the COVID-19 intervention fund were included in the handover note provided to her upon assuming office in October 2023. 

The Auditor General of the Federation had previously raised queries about non-COVID-19-related expenditures and disbursements, amounting to N22,047,616,328.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the inconsistent presentations, Rep. Salam accused some officials of attempting to frustrate parliamentary proceedings, stating, “It’s either you’re grossly incompetent or you deliberately want to frustrate the works of the Parliament.” The committee decided to grant a one-week extension and invited the Bank of Industry to appear alongside the NEPC for a comprehensive examination of the N44 billion fund. 

Rep. Salam ruled that the deadline for the extension and the joint appearance of NEPC and BOI is set for Friday next week, January 26, 2024.

 

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