Juliet Akoje in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Finance yesterday placed the National Lottery Trust Fund on status enquiry for spending 100 per cent of its internally generated revenue (IGR).
This will involve the committee appointing an external auditor to audit the accounts of the Fund and the report made available to the House for further action.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon James Faleke, further directed the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and the Office of the Accountant General to also investigate the Fund and submit their reports to the committee.
The above resolutions were taken during the appearance of the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Bello Maigari, before the committee in the ongoing 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper interactive session with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Bello, during his presentation, told the committee that the Fund has so far in 2023 generated N2, 492, 996, 588.13 of which the entire sum has been expended on various projects, adding that the money was raised from statutory remittances from licences and permits holders.
He disclosed to the committee that N6.28 billion was generated in 2022, but the amount was also spent on various projects carried out by the Fund and that the Fund spent and incurred a deficit of N255 million in 2022 because they had a carryover of liabilities in 2021.
Meanwhile, Faleke said: “It’s like the government opened this agency for you and your family. That is what you are saying. That is the meaning. You generated almost N2.5 billion and you spent the N2.5 billion. You generated N2, 492, 996, 588.13 from one source and then expended the exact same amount. And you put performance at 100 per cent.
“We are going to carry out a status enquiry on the Nigerian Lottery Trust Fund. Status enquiry means we are going to bring in an external auditor to audit your accounts, your books, all your income and expenses from day one to date. We would send our report to the plenary and if you are found guilty, you will be made to refund all expenditure and any other punishment thereof.”
The senator further said the Fund was fully funded by the federal government hence it was bound by law to remit 100 percent of its IGR.
“As it’s expected of a fully funded government agency, so you generated over N3 billion in 2022. You were expected to remit that N3 billion,” he added.
On what the N6.2 billion revenue in 2022 was spent on, Bello said they intervened in many areas, including education, sports development, social services, public welfare and disaster management, and that the money was also spent on the running cost of the Fund.
Bellom while responding further, said the Fund was also expected to pay emoluments, allowances and benefits of members of its board, as well as salaries and allowances of staff.
The panel queried how this could be as the ES/CEO had also already submitted that it was a fully funded organisation by the federal government.
However, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Lagos International Trade Fair also appeared before the panel.
The Corps Marshall of the FRSC, Dauda Biu, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Trade Fair, Veronica Ndanusa, were directed by the committee to ensure they have all relevant submissions for the committee by the next sitting.