Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Reps exonerate SDG boss over alleged N26.9bn COVID-19 spending

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By Tordue Salem – Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Sustainable Development Goals SDG has given the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SSAP-SDGs headed by Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, a clean Bill over allegations that her office awarded N26.9bn COVID-19- contracts.

The lawmakers said no such money was appropriated by the National Assembly for the procurement of materials following the Covid 19 pandemic.

The committee chaired by Rep. Rotimi Agunsoye said “it is important to correct the narrative in the public to avoid misrepresentation of projects carried out by the agency in the past years”.

Rep. Humpe Babatunde, stressed that “there was no basis for querying OSSAP-SDGs or Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire over any irregularities in contract award or procurement of palliatives”, during the budget defence session, adding that “presentation made by her contained a detailed analysis of the projects implemented in the previous years, which is unusual of public officers”

According to him, “I think there is mischief in the report. Facts before us do not show that the SDGs Office participated in the procurement of palliatives neither were they queried for anything.

“As a matter of fact, members of the Committee believes that Princess Orelope-Adefulire led SSAP-SDGs has performed creditably well, brilliantly and was well commended by the members of the committee,”.

On the question raised on non-implementation of special intervention projects, the lawmaker said the information before the Committee revealed that the SSAP-SDGs cannot be blamed as funds for the implementation were yet to be released to her office by the Ministry of Finance.

“You don’t expect the SSA to execute projects when funds are not released. The Committee could not have queried her when we knew that the finance needed for the execution of the projects is not available to her.

“In any way, most of the Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government are also having problems executing the capital component of the budgets because of the shortfall in government’s revenue,” Humpe explained.

Rep. Uju Kingsley Imo State on his part said it is not possible for the agency to have spent 26billion without appropriation

“It is impossible for an agency to spend 26billion without appropriation by the National Assembly. We must set the record straight do as not to put the agency in the eyes of the public ”

The  Vice Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Dr Zainab Gimba also faulted the claim, stressing that the House has not found Princess Orelope-Adefulire wanting in the discharge of her assignments and advised against peddling of fake news against her or her office as was done twice earlier in the year.

She is of the opinion that someone somewhere is probably disturbed by her outstanding performance and decided to malign her integrity by all means.

Representative Princess Mariam Onuoha representing Isiala Mbano/Okigwe Federal Constituency, also noted that Mrs. Orelope-Adefulire deserves commendation over the manner she has been handling affairs of SSAP-SDGs.

But she asked for location of more intervention projects in her constituency for the benefits of her people.

Recall that the members had at the end of the presentation by the SSA commended her and her Office for their outstanding performance, as well as the accuracy, accountability, transparency and detailed presentation of relevant documents submitted to the Committee.

The members also lauded the Office for standing out as one of the MDAs with 100 per cent completion of projects and without any debts from 2016 till date.

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