The House of Representatives has ordered an investigation into an alleged squandering of billions of naira of government funds by petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, on the maintenance of a private jet.
The public accounts committee of the House is to examine whether Mrs. Alison-Madueke, one of the most controversial members of President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet, has spent N10 billion of state funds in the last two years to charter, operate and maintain a jet for her personal use.
The lawmaker who tabled the motion for approval, Samuel Adejare, representing Lagos State, said the allegation was based on “reliable evidence” indicating that Mrs. Alison-Madueke has committed about 500,000 Euros (N130 million naira) monthly to maintain the aircraft, solely for her personal needs and those of her immediate family.
Mr. Adejare said preliminary investigations prove that the financing for the Challenger 850 aircraft was drawn from government funds.
He said the expenditure would be only “a tip of the iceberg” as several other billions of naira may have been frittered on flying the jet all over the world “obviously for the leisure” of the minister and her immediate family.
“This colossal waste is currently estimated at N10 billion which include the payment of allowances to the crew for the trips, hanger parking and rent based on the lease agreement,” Mr. Adejare said.
“If government could be bankrolling this waste in the face of ever dwindling public resources,…it amounts to a misplacement of priority, impudence and breach of public trust, an action that offends the Fiscal Responsibility Act and all other Laws on fiscal discipline in Nigeria.”
If confirmed by the House, the spending will only fall amongst some of the government’s most outlandish expenditure, for a nation with an overwhelming unemployment rate, and dwindling revenues.
It would however be hardly surprising for a minister indicted of maladministration by several reports. Mrs. Alison-Madueke is currently at the centre of an allegation of a missing $20 billion oil proceeds raised by suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi.
Mr. Jonathan has brushed aside several calls for Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s removal.
The motion in the House of Representatives Thursday, was approved with an overwhelming voice vote.
The sole opposition to the resolution, Friday Itulah, who represents Edo State, was disallowed by the speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who explained that the House does not permit debates on such motions until after an investigation has been carried out.
The committee on public finance is to investigate the allegation and present its findings to the house within two weeks.
Culled from Sahara Reporters