The Ministry of Information and Culture is probing how its letter requesting for N13m loan from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) leaked to the social media.
Last week, an online newspaper published a letter from the ministry to the NBC requesting for a loan of N13m to enable the minister and five other members of staff of the ministry travel to China for a conference on Tourism for Development.
A statement at the weekend by the Director, Public Relations and Protocol in the ministry, Mr. Peter Dama, in a reaction to the leak said the loan was not meant for the minister alone as personal expenses, but for the expenses of all members of the delegation.
A source at the ministry said it might be an attempt to get back at the minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, whose strict compliance with due process had upset civil servants in the ministry and its parastatals.
“What is happening is corruption fighting back the way we never expected. But in the past seven months the minister had blocked all sorts of requests for payments that are not genuine.
I can give you examples. One agency brought vouchers for the purchase of diesel at the rate of N195 per litre. But we all know that diesel sells for N125 per litre today.
Another wanted to send three persons abroad for training, but the voucher didn’t come with the curriculum of the training, invitation letters and the schedule of the programme.
We’ve had cases whereby an agency prepared two separate vouchers for payment of N25m for hotel accommodation.
One was lumped up in a set of vouchers on expenditure for the event, the other was a separate voucher. The payments were to the same hotel on the same event. Again, another came up with request for payments for an event that didn’t take place in March.
They requested for funds to be released for events that never held. Also, there was another instance in which those who had left an agency were being paid some allowances. The minister had to turn these requests down.
That’s why the agencies are fighting back,” he said.
The agencies who take their vouchers to the minister for approval include the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Voice of Nigeria (VON) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN). The agencies have no substantive directors-general, hence their expenditures are approved by the minister.
Though the ministry is probing the leak of the letter, it was learnt that the trip to China had been approved by the Presidency.
The ministry wrote to NBC for a loan because there was no cash to fund the trip as the 2016 budget had not been signed, it was gathered.