Nigeria’s federal government misappropriated 1.51 trillion naira which accrued to the Special Funds Accounts managed by it between 2002 and 2012, according to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts (US$1=155 naira).
The accounts comprised the Natural Resources Fund, the Derivation and Ecology Account and the Stabilisation Account.
The Special Funds Accounts were established to mitigate peculiar areas of needs in the country in 2002, including erosion and other ecological problems, development of alternative mineral resources and provision for unforeseen contingencies and economic downturn.
Committee Chair Ahmed Lawan, who presented the report for consideration by the whole Senate on Tuesday in the capital city of Abuja, said 1.42 trillion of the money that accrued to the three accounts as of 30 June, 2012 was paid out, mostly for purposes other than what they were meant for.
For example, 580 billion naira was paid out to various organisations and individuals as loans contrary to the objectives of the funds, and that 348 billion naira of the borrowed fund had yet to be refunded.
“The operation of the National Resources Account is grossly abused because several releases under this account were not related to the intendment of the account,” he said.
The most abused account, according to Senator Lawan, is the Development of Natural Resources Account.
Out of the 701.5 billion naira that accrued to the account, not one naira was used for the development of natural resources which the account was meant for, he said.
“The funds are practically being operated as loan granting pools. Several beneficiaries of the funds utilise the funds for purposes that are not contemplated by the intendment of the funds.
“The socio-economic development and environmental integrity of Nigeria are threatened by the continuous misapplication of the money from the Special Fund Accounts to unrelated purposes. Loans granted from the accounts have not been paid back several years after such loans were granted,” the committee said in its report.
Meanwhile, the Senate has directed its committee on Public Accounts to investigate further the utilisation of the funds and report to the senate within four weeks.
The report of the committee is sure to generate debate in a country where public corruption is very high and funds meant for developmental projects are routinely diverted to personal uses by corrupt officials.