The Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), an arm of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) has been placed on status inquiry by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Wole Oke, dropped the verdict at the end of an investigative hearing into the audit query issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (oAuGF), on the basis that the Institute’s presentation at the hearing was flawed and full of inconsistencies.
The committee pointed out that the N21 million purportedly released in the 2018 budget as against the N50 million appropriated did not tally with the over N400 million captured as expenditure in the Institution’s financial report.
Also, argument by IAR&T’s Executive Director, Prof. Veronica Obatola that the increase in the expenditure was due to the fact that it covered both the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, and the expenditure figure carried over from the previous year were added to that of the following year, did not hold water in the Committee.
Having been asked if IAR$T received any loan, grant or bilateral aid, foreign or local to which she replied in the negative, however during the scrutiny of the audit reports, evidences later showed that such aids running into millions of naira were received.
Prof. Obatola however, attempted to explain this as research grant meant for specific purposes, but Oke said irrespective of its purpose; grants represent an inflow of revenue and must be captured in the books.
He sunsequently constituted a four-man sub-committee to be led by deputy chairman, Rep. Abdulkadir Sa’ad, to visit the institute on Friday, with the view to examine its books and mode of operations including assessment of infrastructure on ground.