Reps task 9th Assembly on recovery of N738.772bn

As the 8th session of the House of Representatives wind down its activities, the lawmakers on Tuesday urged the incoming Assembly to put measures in place for the recovery of the total sum of N738.772 billion and $3 million accrued into the National Resources Fund.

The House through a resolution passed on the 17th February 2016 resolved to probe the ‘Utilization of N350 billion Natural Resources Fund which was spent “in spite of the facts that the Solid Minerals Sector never benefitted from it.”

The Fund was established to develop alternative mineral resources with a view to reducing Marion’s over-dependence on oil.

In his opening remarks, Speaker Yakubu Dogara who presided over the Tuesday plenary session disclosed that “Valedictory Session of both the House of Representatives and Senate Proposed for Thursday, June 6, 2019, depending on the Sallah holidays.

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In his lead debate, Danlami Mohammed Kurfi, sponsor of the motion had explained that “in the 1970s, mining contributed over 10 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but unfortunately today, it contributes to a mere 0.3 percent to the GDP, and sadly, the Natural Resources Fund ( NRF) was never accessed by the Solid minerals sector, even though the fund in the account was utilized.

Kurfi said the total accruals to the account between 2002 and 2012 was about N873 billion while utilization stood at N701 billion leaving a balance of N172 billion by the end of 2012.

“Between 2013 and 2014, the sum of N159.6 billion was contributed to the fund, thus bringing the balance to about N350 billion.”

While the lawmaker noted between 2013 and 2015, money was continuously withdrawn from the fund but no project in the solid mineral sector was funded with the money, he lamented the fact “that a Solid Mineral Development Fund was set up but was never funded.”

He expressed regret that millions of Nigerians are unemployed and the development of the solid mineral sector that would have been a great source of employment was being denied funding.

“The development of the solid mineral sector will accomplish the establishment of livelihoods, poverty reduction through job creation and increase Nigeria’s external trade with the resultant increase in foreign exchange earnings,” he said.

During the consideration of the report Ad-hoc Committee, the House adopted all the recommendations that: “The National Assembly should draw detailed guidelines for disbursement of all money accrued into the Development of Natural Resources Account domiciled and controlled by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Accountant General of the Federation, the Core Ministries, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources should reflect annually in the Appropriation Bill, the amount intended to draw from the Development of Natural Resources Fund to avoid duplication on items or projects already captured in the Appropriation Act.

The House also urged the 9th National Assembly to set out framework for the administration of the fund, preferably a lnter-ministerial Committee drawn from the three core Ministries, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources should be constituted under the supervision of the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) as ecological practice.

The lawmakers also stressed at the need for the Legislative arm of government to place all necessary measures to recover the sum of N738,772,008,857.24 and $3 million disbursed between 2002 and 2019 from the Development of Natural Resources Fund, to ensure that no further abuse of fund is perpetrated.

In the bid to forestall further occurrence, the outing lawmakers urged National Assembly to ensure that all withdrawals from the Development of Natural Resources Fund are done in accordance with the aims of the Executive Order establishing the fund.

Also at plenary, the House adopted the recommendations of the Committee on Public Petitions chaired by Uzoma Nkem-Abonta on the petition by Adindu M. Ohima Daniel on behalf of 1,123 others against Micheno Multipurpose Cooperative Society on the Regulatory and Supervisory lapses in the Mismanagement of about N30 million deposited by over 13,000 direct subscribers.

To this end, the House affirmed the need to investigate the management of Micheno Multipurpose Cooperative Society to ascertain the legitimacy of its activities in line with extant laws and the exact state of subscribers’ funds.

The House during the consideration of the committee’s report at the Committee of the Whole, also harped on the need to investigate the roles of the FCT Director of Cooperatives and the relevant Commercial Banks to ascertain whether due process was applied in the registration and operation of Bank Accounts as well as other Allied Matters regarding Micheno Multipurpose Cooperative Society as well as prosecute any Individual or Corporate Organization that may be discovered to have been directly or indirectly involved in diverting subscribers’ money.

The House also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to investigate the involvement of the Commercial Banks in the dispensation of subscribers’ funds.

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