The bickering between the Senate and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has degenerated with the former alleging that the later spent a whopping N98.4 million for printing leaflets used for Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) awareness.
The Senate Committee on Public Account, which declared this, also kicked against the violation of due process by the ministry in the award of the contract. Also, the committee, chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, discovered how N39 million was paid into two accounts for project monitoring within Abuja.
The committee relied on the 2015 Auditor General Report, which exposed mismanagement of public funds by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The query reads: “Contrary to procurement process, an entry in the cash book for the sum of N98.4 million was made in favour of a company for printing of leaflets for awareness campaign programme for the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). “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 Ministerial Tenders Board meeting of October 9 and 11, 2013.
“The Permanent Secretary had been requested to take procedural disciplinary measures against the erring officers in line with provision with extant regulation.” The ministry in its written response said: “Adequate publicity was made: M/s Dangrace and Partners Ltd 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 Department complied with necessary rule and procedure.” Another query reads: “Contrary to the e-payment policy of the Federal Government, the total sum of N39.7 million was paid to 178 staff of the ministry for project monitor-ing and evaluation in 2014.
“Instead of direct payment to individual accounts the disbursement was paid 2 (two) accounts vide PV. Nos. MPR/CAP/828/2014 and MPR/ CAP/826/2014 of 02/12/14.
“It was curious that 178 officers in the division of the Ministry could be involved in project monitoring and evaluation at the same time. Other irregularities observed duplication of officers names, duplication of locations, monitoring of projects outside the statutory purview of the ministry and its parastatals, payment of DTA and other traveling allowances to staff for monitoring parastatals located in Abuja.
“There was no evidence presented for audit review by the M & E division for the project monitoring exercise carried out by the 178 officers despite the payment of N1.4 million to coordinating secretariat for such purpose. “To all intent and purpose, this expenditure cannot be accepted as a legitimate charge against public funds.”
The ministry in its response said: “The two staff were appointed as the project Accountants for the project. “People were grouped and assigned to various projects for prudence and accountability. “Reports were submitted to the appropriate Department. “Due process and procedure was followed in the best interest of the service.
“Duplication of officers’ names and locations were due to officers visiting different places after grouping. “No officer was paid DTA for monitoring parastatals within Abuja BUT they were paid to monitor those outside Abuja.”
Not satisfied with presentation, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Account directed the officers involved to return the money back to the Federation Account