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Reps, Finance Ministry spat over N2.8b payment to OPEC

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Reps Finance Ministry spat over N2.8b payment to OPECThe House of Representatives and the Ministry of Finance yesterday disagreed over the procedure for paying N2.8 billion to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2017.

The Ministry appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of the House in the ongoing investigative hearing on audit queries by the Auditor-General of Federation on Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Aliyu Ahmed, said the payment was made by the Minister following a memo by OPEC requesting the amount.

Ahmed said the cash was released from the office of the Accountant-General as payment of Nigeria’s contribution to the OPEC Fund for International Development in 2017.

Members of the Committee disagreed that the minister could release such cash without recourse to the President.

Ahmed said payment to international organizations was not guided by the Procurement Act.

He said it was a routine payment and there were hundreds of international organizations, so if they had to resort to the President for every approval, it would be unmanageable and cost more, adding that this had been the practice.

The members opposed this, saying because it had been done over time did not make it right and that such payments must be approved by the President.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon Wole Oke, said the approval from the Presidency for such sum would be apt.

“Probably an approval from Mr. President from FEC for these large sums of money would have been apt. Your submissions are apt. We know where the money is coming from and where it went to. What we are saying and for the Auditor-General to have raised it, there must have been an issue,” he said.

He ruled that in the future, the Ministry should obtain a memo and presidential nod before taking such amounts.

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