04 March 2013, Sweetcrude, ABUJA — THE House of Representatives Committee on Environment, at the weekend, gave the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla and the Director General, Debt Management Office, Abraham Nwankwo a 30-day deadline to ensure that N20 billion is paid back into the Ecological Funds Account, EFA.
The said amount represents the outstanding loans given out to states and local governments from the Ecological Funds since 2010.
The legislators noted that the loans were given without full disclosure and non-approval of the National Assembly.
Chairperson of the committee, Uche Ekwunife accused the Accountant General’s office of “abuse of processes,” wondering if the Ecological Funds Office is “now a lending bank.”
According to the committee, apart from the fact that the loan was given without the authority of the National Assembly, the fund was also misapplied as it was strictly meant for ecological and environmental challenges.
Also, the committee noted that the recipients of the loans ought to pay with interest since they have been holding on to the funds for three years.
The House Committee also insisted that states and local governments should be on first line charge as regards the collection of their share of the ecological funds.
Ekwunife said the state and local governments should have their ecological funds paid into separate accounts so that the funds would be utilised specifically for environment-related issues and would not have to run to the Federal Government over every little environmental challenges.
The committee observed that the releases to the National Emergency Management Authority, NEMA, should be given their allocations on a monthly basis and not quarterly as is currently the case in order to ensure efficiency of operations.