Senate Committee on Public Accounts yesterday expressed suspicion over N44 billion the Military Pensions Board spent without budgetary provisions between 2015 and 2017. Chairman of the Committee, Senator Mathew Uroghide (PDP, Edo South), explained that the Board was evasive in response to the Committee’s demands on payment of pensions from Service Wide Votes instead of budgetary provisions as was the normal practice.
Uroghide, who relied on figures showing that over N44 billion of (SWV) was released to the Military Pensions Board between 2015 and 2017 by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, wondered on how it came about without approval of the National Assembly.
The chairman was dissatisfied that responses from the board to letters sent by the Committee fell short of what the Committee had expected them to disclose. He said: “What I observed is some replies you gave to us were not satisfactory.
In your presentation you were talking of 169 million. What we are asking is how you spent N44 billion from Service Wide Votes. Releases from the service wide vote were what we are concerned and not the budgetary provisions.
“A number of times we have invited you so that we can put this in a proper perspective, we have not been able to see you. In explaining how this fund was spent, don’t give us nebulous explanation. Be very clear so that in the next one week, we would be able to submit our report to the red chambers.”
However, the Chairman of Military Pensions Board, Brig.-Gen. Adekunle Adigun Adesope, said the Committee’s observation was not correct which, according to him, was more of wrong impression. He disclosed that the Board spends N9.2 billion monthly for 92,000 military pensioners, adding that he did not know how the federal government came about payment of pensions from Service Wide Votes instead of the budget.
“I paid 92,000 pensioners every month from service wide votes instead of through budgets, and the reason it was like that, I don’t know.”
A member of the Committee, Foster Ogola insisted that the board must respond to the Committee’s inquiries. “We have a letter written to you and were specific on service wide vote. Are you confirming to us, that you don’t have line budgets for your pensioners?