Tunde Opalana, Abuja
The Senate Committee on Science and Technology has constituted an Ad-hoc Committe to probe a sum of N11 million unaccounted for in the budgetary provision the procurement of an Integrated Cassava Processing Plant in Nkalagu, Ebonyi state, Daily Times gathered.
The ad – hoc committee is saddled with the task of determining what happened to a balance of N11m after spending just N49m out of the N60m budgetary allocation for the procurement of the cassava plant project in Nkalagu.
This was sequel to an interaction between the Senate committee and the management of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) at the National Assembly.
The Director-General of FIIRO, Dr. Agnes Yemisi Asagbra, said N60m was appropriated for the plant while only N49m was expended without explanation on the balance.
Not pleased with the variation in the figures, Chairman of the committee, Senator Uche Ekwunife ordered an immediately constitution of a three-man Ad-hoc Committe led by Senator Obinna Ogba to investigate the discrepancy and report back to the committee.
The Ogba-led Ad-hoc Committe is mandated to determine date of the award of the contract and how much was expended and the the balance.
The Daily Times gathered that the federal government inaugurated the Nkalagu cassava processing plant in 2019, with the aim of generating employment for youths and women in the state.
The plant is projected to produce items such as starch, garri, cassava flour, mushroom, glue gum, among other products.
Ekwunife berated the acting DG over the discrepancy, saying “this your submission is deceitful.”
“We are setting up Ad-hoc Committe to be chaired by Senator Obinna Ogba.
“You will give us all the details of the project, the date of the award from beginning, how much has been paid and the balance,” Ekwunife said.
Meanwhile, speaking with journalists shortly after the meeting the Committee, the FIIRO Director of Procurement explained that “the appropriation for the year (2019) was N60 million on that project.”
“And that N60 million has a breakdown of equipment, office furniture, then office equipment. But there is a memo that said you should not buy office equipment and office furniture in 2019, so we now took the component of the equipment and that was what we awarded, so that we don’t contravene (the directive),” he said.
On the whereabout of the balance, he added “it has not been spent. It is in the Federation Account.”