September 30, 2022

Panel of Representatives Calls on Finance Minister to Remove FCCPC Director Over Unapproved Expenditures

A House of Representatives committee has asked the finance minister to ‘remove’ Akinyoghan Ojo, the current director of finance and accounts at the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), for extra-budgetary spending .

James Faleke, chairman of the finance committee, made the request during an interactive session on the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) 2023-2025 on Tuesday.

Ojo, who appeared before the finance committee said the agency generated N4.02 billion in 2021 and contributed N1.3 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

For 2022, he said 3.661 billion naira had been generated in July and 1.2 billion naira had been remitted to the federal government.

He was immediately questioned by Faleke, who questioned why a fully funded agency should spend funds outside of its budget, adding that the agency must repay 100% of its revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).

In his defense, Ojo said the undisbursed funds were used for operating costs, which he said had been approved by an “oversight committee”.

Dissatisfied, Faleke said the agency violated the provision of the constitution, then ordered the committee clerk to write to the finance minister to remove Ojo as the FCCPC’s finance and accounts director.

Article 81 of the 1999 constitution states that “all income or other money raised or received by the federation (except income or other money payable under this constitution or any act of the national assembly into any other public fund of the federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form a consolidated revenue fund of the federation.

“Clerk, get his ID number. I want you to write a letter to the Minister of Finance. It must be removed. If everyone is spending their income, how will the government finance the budget? You (FCCPC) have earned 4 billion naira and spent 3 billion naira,” he said.

“I won’t take it. The CFO is responsible for obeying financial regulations. If he (Ojo) has violated the financial rules, he must leave the premises.

“Mr. Registrar, write to the Minister of Finance, that in respect of this agency, no funds are to be released until we have seen the redeployment letter from the DFA. No funds need to be released.

However, Ojo said the agency had requested financial autonomy from its oversight agency, the Department of Trade and Investment.

“We presented our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) budget to our committee and it was approved by the committee. The money they gave us from the treasury, we didn’t touch it. We did it because we asked for financial autonomy through our minister – the minister of trade and investment,” he said.

But Faleke insisted that only approved funds should be spent by an agency fully funded by the government.

“You presented your IGR budget outside the national budget? What is that? Does that make sense? You applied but your approval was not granted, you decided to spend money without approval. The problem is that the government allocates money to you,” he said.

“At the beginning of each year, you consider your budget based on what you think you need. You present it to the national assembly and get your approval. If you don’t say that because you are charging VAT, that’s why you have to spend 2 billion naira on your own external credits.

Faleke said the agency should have presented an amendment or a supplementary budget, adding that “it is each RGI which is collected to form the national revenue”.

Also speaking, Adamu Abdulahi, the executive commissioner of the FCCPC, said the agency had increased its operating costs to generate money.

“It takes money to generate money,” he said.

Sa’idu Abdullahi, deputy chairman of the committee, said the agency should be prevented from making unnecessary expenditures.

“Last year you spent N38 million on advertising and ad placement. So far in seven months you have spent over N142 million. The same applies to all your overhead. If you look at local training, you have spent 198 million naira. In seven months, you have spent more than 266 million naira. If you look at local transport, it is the same,” he said. -he declares.

“All we get is that you just create expenses around these items. More unfortunate [is] that you are a fully funded agency. We are not careful in how we manage resources.

In his decision, therefore, Faleke asked the office of the accountant general of the federation to suspend the agency’s account until the breach was reconciled.

“There is 570 million naira in this account, block this money, it must not be spent until we clear it. In Monday. all your officers must appear. Come with a new CFO,” he said.

The agency is expected to appear before the committee with a new director of finance and accounts next Tuesday.