Emerging report indicates that members of the Senate Public Accounts Committee have expressed shock over the report of the Auditor-General for the Federation, AuGF, which revealed that Officials of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which President Muhammadu Buhari heads as the Minister, spent N116 million to buy writing pens, letterhead papers, and toners for photocopying machines, in just one year.
The breakdown of the expenditure showed that the Ministry spent N14.5 million to purchase schneider pens, N46 million to print the Ministry’s letterhead papers, and N56 million to procure toners for its photocopy machines.
The AuGF stated this in his audit report currently being scrutinised by the Senate Committee led by Senator Mathew Urhoghide.
The query by the Office of the AuGF reads: “The contract for the supply of Schneider biros worth N14.5 million was split into smaller packages of less than N5 million each and was awarded to four different companies in order to circumvent the Permanent Secretary’s approval threshold of N5 million.
“Similarly, the contract for the printing of the Ministry’s letterhead worth N46 million was also split and awarded to 11 different Contractors.
“Also, the contract for the supply of toners worth N56 million was split and awarded to seven different contractors. The permanent secretary has been requested to explain this contravention of the Public Procurement Act 2007.”
The Chairman of the Committee asked the Representative of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Godwin Akubo, to respond to the query by the AuGF.
The Ministry, in its response, said: “The action of the Ministry was a quick response to the needs of the various departments in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. These awards followed normal rules and procedures.
“The contracts were not split. They were awarded to the various Contractors at different times, when items were needed.
“The sum of N46.6 Million used for printing of letterhead followed due process and the large sum of money is explained by the volume of the produced for most of departments.”
Dissatisfied with the defence of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, the Chairman of the Committee sustained the query, asking the Committee Secretariat to document the money spent, and ask for the refund from the Officers involved in the Ministry.