Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Senate Public Account Committee has described as unacceptable the payment of N98.4m by the Petroleum Resources Ministry for the printing of leaflets.
The flyers, according to the 2015 Auditor-General for the Federation’s report, was meant to create awareness campaign for the Petroleum Industrial Bill.
The report, currently being scrutinised by the National Assembly, also stated that the fund was released without due process.
The Chairman of the Senate panel, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, also faulted the payment of N39m was into the accounts of two persons for the purpose of monitoring the ministry’s project within the Federal Capital Territory.
The AuGF query on the matter read in part, “Contrary to the procurement process, an entry in the cash book for the sum of N98.4m was made in favour of a company for printing of leaflets for awareness campaign programme for the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“There was no formal award of contract and it was also observed that the approval for the payment was via memo presented by the Director (Press) to the Ministerial Tender Board meeting of 9th and 11th October, 2013.
“The permanent secretary had been requested to take procedural disciplinary measures against the erring officers in line with provisions of extant regulation.”
However, the ministry in its written response to the query explained that massive publicity needed to be created, hence the awareness campaign programme.
The response read, “Adequate publicity was made: M/S Dangrace and Partners Limited were selected based on proven capabilities and competence.
“It should be stated that veritable costing proposals were submitted and approved before the authorisation for the award and production of Petroleum Industry Bill leaflets.
“The (Media) Department complied with necessary rule and procedure.”
Also, the AuGF in another query, faulted the payment of N39.7m into the bank accounts of two officers for the purpose of monitoring the ministry’s projects located within Abuja.
The query said contrary to the e-payment policy of the Federal Government, the total sum of N39.7m was paid to 178 staff of the ministry for project monitoring and evaluation in 2014.
Not satisfied with the ministry’s explanation, the Senate panel directed the officers involved to return the money to the federation account.