Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Tuesday quizzed the duo of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Industry (BoI) as it began a three-day investigation to unravel the mismanagement of N300 billion – an amount that was set up by the Federal Government to revitalise the power and airline industries in the country between 2003 and 2008, Power and Airline Intervention Fund (PAIF), which has now dwindled to less than N100 billion.
Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaker, while declaring the investigation open, called on the ad hoc committee on the disbursement of public funds by bank of industry limited under PAIF as established by CBN to unravel the mystery behind the disbursement, reiterated the resolve of the House to investigate any matter that undermines the growth of the federation at all times.
“We shall continue to devote attention to situations where the action of government or any of its agencies infringe on the constitution. By some accounts, the volume of this fund which originally amounted to about N300 billion has now dwindled to less than N100 billion. Officials claim that the sum of over N200 billion have been disbursed through deposit money banks to certain individuals and corporate organisations without following due process.
“You will agree with me that we have a very serious issue here which falls within the precincts of the constitutional mandate given to the National Assembly that all revenues belonging to the federation, must be paid into the consolidated revenue fund, withdrawals therein shall only be carried out solely upon the authority of an Act of the National Assembly.
“Section 88 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 makes it mandatory for the National Assembly to protect the interest of the citizens and the general tax payer, with respect to the use of public funds. In this vein, we shall not hesitate to recommend appropriate sanctions where any such violation has been deemed to have occurred. However, we shall not pursue every rumour of misdeed or subject government officials to unnecessary harassment either,” he said.
In his welcome address, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, chairman of the committee, said that: “In this process, specialised views and expert opinions are sought in a way that fully erases all time-inconsistencies, as well as making-up for informed dynamics and complexities that occur as a result of changing times.”
He particularly noted that the credibility of any item of public spending is enhanced whenever any item of public expenditure is passed through the. deep heat of legislative chemotherapy.
“This is one of the major reasons why Investigative Hearing such as this, remains a bourgeoning pillar of participator)’ democracy. It is vital at this point, that I highlight an overview of how this Hearing will be guided,” he added.
In his presentation, Mr. Paul Eluhaiwe, director of Development Finance, CBN, stated that the fund came to rescue the power and the airline industries so as to forestall the industries and the entire economy from being plunged into economic crisis.
He pointed out that CBN did not want the fund to be loaned to BoI because the apex bank would not want any fraud in the disbursement of the said fund.
The committee while questioning the role of the CBN in the whole process of disbursement of the PAIF, noted that the apex bank allowed BoI to be the manager of the intervention fund without exercising its regulatory role in the banking sector.
Dogara pledged that the committee’s findings and recommendations would be guided by the provisions of extant laws on the disbursement of public funds by government agencies.