Fred Itua, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee Chairman on SDGs, Rotimi Agunsoye, has rejected claims that his panel inserted about N33 billion into the budget of the Senior Special Assistant to the President.
In a press statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, the National Assembly absolved the presidential aide, Orelope-Adefulire, of financial impropriety.
The committee chair dismissed the claims that correspondence was sent to the Finance Ministry in respect of the subject matter, upon which clarification was sought from the SDGs office without any indictment on the person or the office of the presidential aide, indicating misappropriation of the 2020 budgetary allocation of her office.
He said: ‘The attention of the House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been drawn to a publication by The Nation Newspaper, with the headline ” 2020 Budget: Row over N33b SDGs’ vote” stating that the sum of N33 billion was included in the allocation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2020 Budget without details being provided to the National Assembly and consequently direct the Ministry of Finance to stop the release of allocation to the SDGs office.
‘In setting the records straight, The House Committee on SDGs hereby state that a The House Committee on SDGs got records from the OSSAP-SDGs and Appropriation committee which shows the said additional 33 billion was not appropriated for SDGs office among provisions of the 2020 budget earlier assented to by Mr President upon which we all know the prevalence of Covid-19 distorted implementation of entire 2020 budget.
‘The legislature is determined to ensure adequate oversight of all appropriated for the implementation of SDGs programmes in all ministries and agencies of government as well captured, as soon as we get adequate correspondence from the House appropriation committee to further ascertain fund release in order to guide our oversight activities.
‘Hence, the recent official correspondence from both Senate and House SDGs committees to the finance ministry to release the budget provisions of OSSAP-SDGs so as to enable our committee to oversight accordingly.
‘This clarification became imperative to avoid any misrepresentation of the earlier correspondence between the National Assembly Committees on SDGs and Finance Ministry as any financial indictment on the person and office of the OSSAP-SDGs.’