The Nigerian Senate on Monday, February 13, summoned the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau Sam Saba over an abandoned office project worth N8 billion.
The upper chambers accused the CCB chairman of failing to give details and feasible presentation of expenditures made in the 2016 budget.
Describing the CCB’s 2016 budget presented before it as “voodoo accounting”, the Senate Saba must give details of how the bureau expended N22 million release for security services, N13 million for honorarium and sitting allowance; N11.2 million for local training; and N24.6 million for welfare package, among others.
During its hearing, the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions chaired by Samuel Anyanwu the bureau’s performance is unsatisfactory.
Anyanwu said it was unrealistic for the CCB to spend a N5 million on purchase of recharge cards.
Anyanwu said: “There are aspects of the item in your 2016 budget which I would want details for, such as whom were those who benefited from money appropriated for welfare, honorarium and all that.”
‘’I think we need these details to be able to know how you spent what was released to you for last year.”
He said the committee needs the details to reach a decision as to whether “it is necessary to remove them because we want to stop the waste of public funds.”
Furthermore, other lawmakers said it was wasteful for the bureau to demand N4.4 billion for the purchase of a new office building, despite spending N1.4 billion on an abandoned project.
Mao Ohuabunwa, an Abia North Peoples Democratic Party senator called for transparency of spending by government agencies.
Ohabunwa said: “I can’t seem to come to terms with your decision to spend N1.4 billion and dump that to purchase another building for over N4 billion.”
I really cannot fathom the rationality behind that decision. “Second, this budget, as far as capital is concerned, is still on because the likelihood of money being released is still there, and when that happens, we would have gone past this.
“As per overheads, we need details of your expenditure,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), said the committee’s request was to ensure that no one is left in doubt on the expenditure of government funds.
But in his response, Saba said the bureau’s decision to abandon the office project was due to interference by the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA).
He said the CCB had proposed N3.5 billion for an 8-floor building for the office project, but the plan was cancelled by the FCDA, redesigned and revalued at N10 billion.
Saba said the FCTA decision for revaluation and redesign was to meet the requirement for the procurement of land at the location which prescribed nothing less than an 18-floor building.
He also expressed the readiness of the bureau to seek the support of the National Assembly in getting the approval of the federal government for the allocation of a building to accommodate the agency.
He added that the CCB had proposed N2, 732, 437,287 billion; out of which N1, 601,966,323 was for personnel; N435,616,600 for overhead, while N694,854,364 was for capital expenditure.