PHCN staff pension: Reps query accountant general on N54bn loan

The House of Representatives has asked Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to provide it with details of how a loan of about N54 billion reportedly obtained in 2014 to pay pension of staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was sourced and expended.

The House’s committee on public accounts, which made the demand, Tuesday also rejected the response of Idris on audit queries from the Auditor General of the Federation, insisting that the he failed to address issues raised in the audit queries, seeking explanations on why his office failed to remit closing balance from the IPPIS account to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the year ending December 31, 2014.

The auditor general of the Federation had in the query said the source of the borrowed fund was not disclosed by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

Presenting the position of the committee, its chairman, Hon. Wole Oke, said members were not satisfied by the explanation of the Accountant General that the closing balance that was not returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation was not government money, but money belonging to other agencies such as unions and taxes meant for other states.

Mr Idris however explained that the non disclosure of the source of the borrowed fund was an oversight, assuring that his office will furnish the house with details of the fund’ add get that very often, government borrow from different sources and from different accounts to pay back later when certain exigencies occur.

“For example, I know that when the issue of ASUU occurred in the past and the government wanted to pay the outstanding allowances, they went and borrowed money from TETFUND. I am not saying the N54 billion was borrowed from Pension money. But I want to assure the parliament that we will provide the source of that money and other information required from us”, he stated.

On the non-remittance of the closing balance, he said “it is third party money deducted from sources such as union dues and taxes meant for states. That money does not belong to the federal government and that is why it was not remitted to the CRF so that we will not run into trouble when it is time to pay”.

The accountant general also told the Committee that the delay in the passage of the national budget and extension of the capital budget into the following year has made it impossible for his office to prepare the financial statement of the government for audit as required by law, adding; “we are for the Federation and cannot sabotage the Federation. We are doing our best to ensure things are done normally”.  

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