By Abdulateef Bamgbose
The Senate Tuesday gave the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy , 48 hours ultimatum to account for N13.9billion it collected from service wide votes from 2017 to 2021.
The ultimatum given by Senate committee on Public Accounts to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry , Dr William Alo, followed his failure to tender documentary evidence on how the N13.9billion was expended by the Ministry during the period under review .
Trouble came the way of the Ministry when the Chairman of the Committee , Senator Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP Edo South ) and other members quizzed the Communication Ministry Permanent Secretary on details of expenditure made from the collected service wide votes .
The Permanent Secretary along with Director of Finance and Administration from the ministry , incurred the wrath of the panel for begging for more time for the documentary evidence after blabbering for several minutes .
Irked by his request , the committee Chairman said such a plea would not be granted after four months of enquiry on how the said fund was expended by the Ministry .
He said based on records made available to the committee from the office of Accountant General of the Federation , a total of N13.9billion was disbursed to the Ministry from the Service Wide votes for special capital projects execution from 2017 to 2021.
” Series of letters have been written to your Ministry since September last year for required explanations on how the Service Wide Votes were expended without prompt response .
” Only for you to come here today along with the DFA of the Ministry to beg for more time which would not be granted beyond Thursday this week because the committee must submit report to the Senate on how your Ministry and many of the other MDAs, are running away from explanations on spendings made from the Service Wide Votes .
” What the Committee and by extension , the Senate wants from your Ministry are evidence of approval of the funds given , evidence of contracts awarded and executed from the funds .
” Accountability is key as far as public account or fund is concerned . The very purpose for which this committee was constitutionally created .
” Our findings on how the various MDAs spent the Service Wide Votes given to them , show that accountability and transparency were not adhered to which to us , is unacceptable .
” The consequence of is that your Ministry and other MDAs found wanting , would be made to cough out whatever amount mismanaged by way of returning them to the government coffers ” , he said .
The committee however granted the embattled permanent secretary another re – appearance before it on Thursday this week when he said N7billion out of the N13.9billion was expended on Galaxy backbone by an agency under it .