While frontline workers in Nigeria, who expose themselves daily amidst the Corona Virus outbreak beg to be paid salaries commensurate with their expertise and time, their counterparts sitting behind desks at the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, have resorted to enriching themselves using their pen despite financial regulations put in place to checkmate such activities.
One of such regulations, the financial regulations 415, which states that “The Federal Government requires all officers responsible for expenditure to exercise due economy. Money must not be spent merely because it has been voted” have over the years become a waffle of phrases strung together that eventually mean nothing especially to Pen-robbers in the Public Service.
Following its diggings into the activities of the ministry over the years, SecretReporters uncovered that a sum of N18,770,000 (Eighteen Million, seven Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira) was depleted on a 2-day training and bilateral discussion with the Chief Executives from the Ministry which included Chief Medical Directors and Chairmen Medical Advisory Council in conjunction with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in respect of preparation of the 2019 Personnel Budget, rather than the sum of N4,860,000 (Four Million, Eight Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) that was initially budgeted for the program.
According to a memo written on 25/05/2018 by the Ministry’s Assistant Chief Admin Officer (ACAO) in Abuja, an initial sum of N4,860,000 (Four Million, Eight Hundred, and Sixty Thousand Naira) was requested to organize the 2-day training/bilateral discussion over Personnel budget for the next financial year.
However, in a twist well-orchestrated to syphon public funds, a total sum of N18,770,000 (Eighteen Million, Seven Hundred, and Seventy Thousand Naira) was later paid in favor of two officers in the Ministry whose identity nor reasons for payment were allegedly not stated in the financial accounts of the ministry as stipulated by law. Each officer we learned received a jaw-dropping N9,720,000 (Nine Million, Seven Hundred, and Twenty Thousand Naira) with no evidence showing that it was utilized by the ministry to organize the two-day training.
The 2018 Audit report by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation further revealed that the additional amount was not presented for proper scrutiny and is about 380% more than the initial budget of N4,860,000 (Four Million Eight Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) applied for by the ACAO. An act that reeks of fraud, mismanagement of public funds, and diversion of government funds for personal use.
There have been calls to the permanent secretary, Alhaji Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, to provide proof of approval on the overpayment, recover the funds and ensure its return to the treasury with the officers involved queried and disciplined under the public service rules.