The Nigerian Senate Committee on Public Accounts has discovered extensive diversion of funds from the Service Wide Vote (SWV) account by several Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government.
The funds from the SWV are intended for MDAs to cater for urgent needs or emergencies not adequately covered in the annual budget. However, the committee found out that many MDAs received disbursements without following the necessary procedure of making formal requests approved by the President.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Matthew Urhoghide, stated that hundreds of billions of naira were disbursed to certain agencies for salary shortfalls, despite already having budget allocations for such expenses.
Between 2017 and 2021, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation disbursed substantial amounts to some MDAs without proper authorization.
Even though specific agencies and the amount diverted were not mentioned in the report, it was noted that some MDAs received funds for projects already allocated in the budget. The former Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, was identified as the source of some of the approvals for these illegal transactions.
Additionally, many MDAs failed to disclose transaction details related to the Service Wide Vote, which is against the law governing the vote. During the investigation, 207 federal government agencies were invited for questioning, but only 119 appeared before the committee. Notable agencies that declined the committee’s invitations included the State House, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and others.
The committee report recommended that capital supplementation from the Service Wide Vote should only be authorized by the President, and urged MDAs to strictly ensure that funds received from the Service Wide Vote are applied to the specific purpose of request and release.
It also suggested that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Cash Management Department, Federal Ministry of Finance should improve their record-keeping procedures to enhance efficient operations of the Federal Treasury House.