The Senate Committee on Public Accounts has queried the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative over a N960m personnel cost in the 2022 budget allotted to 43 employees.
While presenting the budget before the committee, Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya, said N960m was allotted to personnel cost while N760.9 m was allocated for overhead cost. Also, N344m was devoted to capital expenditure, he said.
Explaining further, he said 51 per cent of personnel cost had been spent. He noted that 58 per cent of overhead cost had been expended, revealing that only 50 per cent of capital had been released.
But the Chairman of the committee, Mathew Urhoghide, in his response, expressed concerns over the frivolous spending of the agency, claiming that the agency spent 51 per cent of its personnel cost as of November 2022. He said this was the case of over-bloated personnel cost in the agency.
He said, “You have only taken 51 per cent of your personnel cost in November. Your personnel cost is too high; you have only two months, and you have just collected 51 percent of your personnel cost.
“This is one case of a personnel budget over-bloated. What we are saying is that it is systemic leakage. We will reduce your personnel cost to less than N500 million.”
Responding, the executive secretary explained that when the agency started operations, it only covered oil and gas, but the agency had now moved into solid minerals and required more manpower to carry out its operations.
The agency currently has 43 staff, according to NIETI executive secretary.
He said the agency had the approval to recruit more staff, which was made available in the 2022 budget, and the process had just been concluded.
He added that the newly recruited 70 staff members were already captured by IPPIS and not yet being paid.
However, a member of the committee, Ibrahim Danbaba, asked the executive secretary of NEITI to submit the nominal role of the agency to ascertain what he told the lawmakers.