The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Monday said N8.1 trillion that 15 revenue generating agencies of the federal government failed to remit to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015 is equal to Nigeria’s yearly national budget.
According to a statement by his spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi, the minister stated this in Osogbo, Osun State, while commissioning phases one and two of the channelization, de-silting, flood control and development of Okoko and Ogbagba rivers, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, had first made the disclosure Thursday last week while addressing State House correspondents at the end of the National Economic Council in Abuja. He said the discovery was made by the auditing firm, KPMG.
According to the minister in Osogbo, the discovery is many times worse than the N1.34 trillion allegedly stolen 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 N1.34 trillion 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,” Mr Mohammed was quoted as saying.
The minister who was speaking before a crowd at the event, said the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption remained very critical because it will free much-needed resources for national development.
Mr Mohammed 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 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
Corroborating the minister’s statement on the unremitted funds, Governor Rauf Aregbesola said the share of Osun State from the said amount is N75 billion, which, he said, would have been more than enough to pay all civil servants their salaries and complete all infrastructural projects of his government.
Speaking on the commissioned project, the minister said it was the first time the Ecological Fund Office was commissioning any project and handing it over to the host community.
He said the triple project, which was one of the 12 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,” Mr Mohammed said.