…as heads of agencies shun MTEF public hearing
The Senate yesterday berated the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), for remitting N44.5 billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 2019 out of the N2.4 trillion generated as revenue in that fiscal year. This was as heads of many of the other revenue generating agencies of government invited by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Finance, Budget and National Planning for interactive sessions on their 2021 revenues projections, shunned the invitation, claiming indisposition and hospitalisation.
The DPR faced the storm when the chairman of the joint committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, demanded for records of the agency’s Internally Generated Revenue in 2019 and projections for 2021. The DPR’s Head of Planning, Johnson Ajewole, who first spoke in the absence of the Director, Engr Sarki Auwalu, told the committee that a total of N2.4 trillion was generated by the agency in 2019 but only N44.5 billion was remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the country. This revelation provoked the members of the committee to rage, leading the lawmakers to declare the submission as unacceptable.
The attempt by the Head of Finance and Accounts of the petroleum agency, Mrs Lilian Ufondu, to expatiate further on the wide gap in revenues and remittance, further aggravated the anger the committee members. Ufondu explained that, out of the N2.4 trillion generated by DPR in 2019, N88 billion was removed as four per cent collection fee out of which N5.72 billion was remitted while the balance was used for overhead.
However, barrage of questions fired at her by the Committee Chairman and members on what happened to the over N2 trillion balance, were not satisfactorily answered as she was only able to mention overhead and operational costs without specific figures tied to them.
She added that as at July this year, DPR had generated N1.13 trillion and projecting N3.4trillion as revenues generation for 2021 out which N139 billion would be taken out as four per cent collection fee. Angered by the submissions and alleged disjointed records presentations, the committee ordered that the agency must reappear before it unfailingly on Tuesday and must be led by its director, Sarki Auwalu, who was said to have travelled abroad. Senator Adeola said: “Information and records presented to us by both directors and heads of departments that have spoken are not clear and insufficient, as regards budget performance of DPR within the last three years and revenue projection for 2021.
“For this committee to do proper and thorough job, comprehensive records of such budget performances must be made available latest by Monday, upon which your director and other top management staff, will appear before us again on Tuesday next week. “Also, well detailed proposals for revenues generation by the agency for 2021- 2022 must be included in the expected comprehensive records”, he said. Efforts made by journalists to make Ufondu explain her inability and that of her counterpart on planning, Johnson Ajewole, to make satisfactory submissions before the committee, failed, as she lamented that the day was a bad one for her and the DPR.
She said: “I’m sad and it is a bad day for us. We are told to come back and we shall return on Tuesday next week,” she said. Heads of other agencies like Nigeria Inland Waterways (NIWA), Bank of Industry (BOI) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), were also not present for the interactive session and accordingly ordered by the committee to reappear on Monday.