On Thursday, the House of Representatives raised serious concerns about the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) following revelations that the agency recorded an expenditure of N3.15 billion, despite reporting a revenue of only N2.89 billion for the first quarter of 2024. This issue came to light during the ongoing probe into revenue monitoring by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government.

Akwada James, the Director of Finance and Administration at NIPC, explained to the committee that the figure represented the projected expenditure for the entire year. “The reason for this is that our income does not come in uniformly. Therefore, we have committed spending in the budget for the year,” James stated. However, his explanation did not sit well with the committee members, who found the financial inconsistencies troubling.

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Chairman of the Committee, Hon James Faleke, expressed his bewilderment at the agency’s budgeting practices. “The revenue collection for the first quarter of 2024 is N2.89 billion, and your expenditure for that same period is N3.15 billion. If you are giving us revenue for a quarter, the expenditure for that quarter should be stated, not the whole year’s budget. How can you provide expenditure for the entire year?” Faleke questioned, highlighting the apparent discrepancy in the financial reporting.

In response, James mentioned that the format used was provided by the budget office. This explanation was promptly rejected by Faleke, who found the format confusing and unacceptable. “No sir, we don’t like that format here. It’s confusing. How can you tell me you generated N2.8 billion and on record you spent N3.1 billion, and we ask where you got the money and who gave you the authority to spend above budget,” Faleke retorted.

The committee also took issue with the NIPC’s financial practices in the previous year. They pointed out that the agency had spent 20 percent of its revenue in 2023, which is against the norms for a fully funded agency. Typically, such agencies are expected to remit their entire revenue to the federal account. “A fully funded agency is supposed to remit their revenue 100 percent. So, you spent money illegally. On what authority did you approve the usage of that money?” Faleke queried further.

James defended the expenditure by citing the budget and the agency’s engagement with the Ministry of Finance, claiming they had received authorization via a letter. However, Faleke demanded to see this letter, warning of personal liability if the spending was not properly authorized. “I would like to see the letter that authorized you to spend that 20 percent, else we would charge all of you personally. We would write and ask that the money spent be deducted from your salaries until it is fully refunded. I need that letter on Monday,” Faleke insisted.

Additionally, Faleke called upon the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to explain why no queries had been raised regarding NIPC’s expenditure of 20 percent of its internally generated revenue (IGR). The FRC representative, Mrs. Victoria Adizou-Angakuru, admitted that they had not received NIPC’s audited financial statements since 2019. This admission led Faleke to direct that the Managing Director of NIPC appear before the committee on June 5, 2024, with comprehensive records.

Faleke concluded by suggesting that the best approach to resolving these financial discrepancies would be to invite the Accountant General of the Federation. “In view of the contradictions, we would keep our documents and let the Accountant General come and tell us what is responsible for these discrepancies for a fully funded agency,” Faleke stated.

This ongoing probe into the NIPC’s financial practices underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in the management of public funds. The committee’s scrutiny aims to ensure that all MDAs adhere strictly to financial regulations and maintain integrity in their operations, ultimately safeguarding the nation’s resources.