The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, PAC has commenced an investigation into why the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) had failed to employ workers in 2018 even though the Parliament appropriated money for that purpose.
The Committee accused the agency of lying to the government and the parliament and denying other agencies of government money that could have been used for other purposes.
According to the Audit query raised against the Agency by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation now before the Committee Chaired by Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke (PDP-Osun), the agency was given N1.7 billion as personnel cost in 2018 but utilized only N1.4 billion while returning the balance of about N310 million to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The committee which commenced the probe Friday however observed that despite not recruiting the required staff, the agency got the same amount of N1.7 billion as personnel cost in 2019, with the amount spent going up to about N1.6 billion.
According to the query, “in 2020, the agency’s allocation for personnel cost went up to N1.8 billion, reducing to N1.6 billion in 2021, going up again to N1.9 billion in 2022 even when the workers have not been employed”.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Wole Oke declared that something was wrong with the agency, wondering why the personnel cost kept rising and falling even when new staff have not been employed.
However, a senior officer of the agency, Abdullah Abubakar who represented the Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme explained that the agency budgeted N1.7 billion for personnel cost in 2018 because it initially planned to employ new staff, adding that the balance of N310 million was returned to the treasury.
According to him, “our personnel is handled by IPPIS. The balance of the money budgeted was returned to the CRF because we did not employ the staff that we needed to employ. To date, we are still in need of those workers, but we are yet to get a waiver from the Head of Service to employ.”
He explained that the increase in Expenditure despite not employing new staff was a result of the promotion of existing workers and the need to adjust their salaries in accordance with their new rank.
The Committee members however demanded for the NEEDS assessment be carried out in the agency by the Head of Service and the Federal Character Commission leading to their budgetary request in 2017.
According to the Chairman of the Committee, “the Head of Service and the Federal Character Commission must have carried out a needed assessment on your agency leading to your request for funds to employ. We gave you that money, but you failed to use it. The complaint of most agencies has been a lack of funds, but here, you got the funds you requested and yet, failed to use them.
“You have lied to the parliament through the President and have denied other agencies the use of that money. So, we need to seed the assessment that was carried out on your agency that led to the parliament giving you this money.
“By not using this money for what it was meant for, you have committed an offence against the appropriation act. But we will give you a right of fair hearing to explain to us the reason (s) for your action”
Meanwhile, the Committee has also decided to conduct an investigation into an alleged indebtedness by port operators to the Nigeria Ports Authority amounting to over 800 million dollars in Lagos.
Committee Chairman, Wole Oke said since the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) needed to be present alongside the port operators, the committee would take to investigation closer to them.
According to him, “the parliament will move the hearing to Lagos where all parties will meet with us at Marriott Hotel in Ikeja between December 8 and 9. We hope to resolve this issue once and for all. 800 million dollars is not small money”.