THE Administrative Panel of Enquiry set up by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige to unravel the financial state of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, and ancillary matters, has revealed that over N35 billion was spent by previous administration without documentary evidence.
The Ishaya Awotu-led panel of enquiry submitted its report to the Minister, yesterday, at the Ministry of Labour and Employment Conference hall, Abuja.
Meantime the Minister has described the document as a financial roadmap to a healthy NSITF and promised that an implementation committee would be swiftly set up to faithfully execute the recommendations.
The Panel, according to its report, alleged that payment vouchers in the sum of N27,056,598,053.92 were not presented to the Panel for audit examination and sighting.
It further alleged that payment vouchers in the sum of N8,376,083,789.72 were without adequate supporting documents.
The report stated: “On 5th February 2017, the Minister of Labour and Employment constituted an Administrative Panel of Enquiry to look into the Financial State of Affairs of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and Matters Ancillary thereto.
The terms of reference given to the panel include, among others, “to investigate and render a report on the accounting procedures of NSITF in order to ensure proper accounting and management of funds, especially on how the internal Audit mechanism of the establishment broke down, allowing for such colossal loss of funds from the organization.
The Panel recommended that the management of the Fund should, without further delay, conclude the External Auditors’ Reports for the period 2011 to 2015.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, raised the alarm over the huge sums of money Nigeria was sinking in China to buy steel, saying it portended danger for the country.
The speaker warned that should Nigeria continue to ignore its steel sector and depend on importation, it would end up enriching the Asian country and perhaps, other countries in Europe and America.
To this end, he called on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to give priority to steel development in Nigeria, saying it was the bedrock of the development of the country.
Dogara, who spoke at the ongoing 2018 Open NASS Week in the National Assembly, Abuja, regretted that the government was more focused on implementing projects that were dependent on steel such as the Mambilla power project and the Second Niger bridge, among others, by importing steel abroad.
He said: “Point to any nation out there that is industrialised that doesn’t have a robust steel and aluminum sector.
“As we move towards the Mambilla Power Projects, we are utilising millions in tonnes of steel, and if we don’t have a robust steel sector, all the money would go to China, for instance, where we will be importing this steel from.
“The second Niger Bridge is there, it’s going to also consume millions of tonnes of steel. If care is not taken, China will also earn all the money. So what are we doing as a government to ensure this doesn’t happen?
“Without the aluminum and steel sector, there cannot be industrialisation in Nigeria. The President of Ghana was speaking recently before an enlightened audience and he spoke of the need for Ghana to have a steel plant and they are starting soon. So if care is not taken, Nigeria, the giant of Africa, will be importing steel from Ghana.”
Dogara also said government was sloganeering about agricultural development in Nigeria but harped on the need for provision of mechanised tools and subsidies to farmers for agricultural revolution to work.
He said: “To be very frank, if we don’t talk of mechanisation and subsidies for farmers, any talk about revolution in agriculture without mechanisation and subsidy is just rendering cheap talk. It will not be competitive and it will not work.