By BARBARA KALU
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said 15 revenue generating agencies of the federal government failed to remit N8.1 trillion to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015.
The Minister made the disclosure in Osogbo, Osun State, on Monday while commissioning the Channelization, De-silting, Flood Control and Development of Okoko and Ogbagba Rivers, phases one and two, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the discovery by the auditing firm KPMG is many times worse than the N1.34 trillion carted away by 55 public officials between 2006 and 2013.
“Recently, the Federal Government ordered an audit (between 2010 and 2015) of 15 government revenue generating agencies. The result was the discovery that the agencies had not remitted over 8.1 trillion Naira to the Federation Account. This amount is about six times the 1.34 trillion Naira that was stolen between 2006 and 2015.
”It is also the equivalent, on the average, of the country’s yearly national budget! Imagine, for a moment, how many kilometres of roads could have been constructed, how many kilometres of rail tracks that could have been laid, and how many modern hospitals and schools that could have been built if that money had been properly accounted for,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He told the mammoth crowd at the commissioning that the Buhari Administration’s fight against corruption remains very critical because it will free the much-needed resources for national development.
The Minister said the projects being executed by the present administration, including the one that was commissioned in Osogbo – one of 53 being commissioned across the country – could have long been completed but for the mind-boggling looting of the treasury by previous administrations, which deprived the nation of infrastructural growth
He said that every kobo that is not looted is a plus for development, adding: ”This is why we will not stop talking about those who have looted the public treasury, despite the pushback from their apologists. If we do not stop the looting of the treasury, there will be no money for the kind of projects we are commissioning here in Osogbo today.”
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun corroborated the Minister’s disclosure that 8.1 trillion Naira was unaccounted for by 15 revenue generating agencies, saying the share of his state from the said amount is 75 billion Naira which, he said, would have been more than enough to pay all civil servants their salaries and complete all infrastructural projects of the government.
Speaking on the commissioned project, the Minister said this is the first time the Ecological Fund Office is ever commissioning any project and handing it over to the host community.
He said the triple project, which was one of the twelve 4th Quarter, 2016 ecological intervention projects across the six geo-political zones approved by the President in October 2016, was due to the perennial flooding which had claimed lives and destroyed property in Osogbo Township.
”I have no doubt in my mind that the successful completion of these projects would enhance the holistic solutions to soil erosion and flood menace in Osogbo Town. This would at the same time reduce the danger to lives and property associated with erosion and persistent flooding that has been experienced here in the recent time,” Alhaji Mohammed said.