Reps quiz NAFDAC over controversial N4bn COVID-19 intervention funds

The House of Representatives has commenced an investigation into the utilisation of the N4 billion COVID-19 intervention fund approved by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The investigative hearing was held at the instance of the House Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Bamidele Salam.

Hon. Salam while addressing NAFDAC Director General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye requested all relevant documents, and approvals on the utilisation of the N4 billion allocated as COVID-19 intervention fund.

In her response, Professor Adeyeye disclosed that part of the fund was meant to be used to construct a Vaccine Laboratory and Animal House in Oshodi, Lagos State which is now at 81% completion.

She added that the sums of N250 millon was deployed for the construction of Toxicology Laboratory and N41 million was spent on Microbiology Laboratory, respectively.

The NAFDAC boss also informed the Committee that training on global benchmarking, e-library and port inspection warehouse software (for tracking and tracing shipments of goods coming into Nigeria) gulped N50 million; N65 million and N25 million respectively.

Unsatisfied with her response on the structures and the time for the execution of the project, the discrepancies in figures, the lawmakers requested for further submissions should be made to the Committee for further legislative scrutiny.

Hon. Salam said: “Madam DG and DFA, please note that we need copies of the Appropriation where these things are covered. Because when you are making payments, one of the standard practices is that you will also make a reference to the subhead from which you are paying.

“Since these expenditures are not captured under your regular appropriation, they are COVID funds. You bought a N30 million Hilux from it, we need the evidence that that was the purpose for which the appropriation was meant. That is very very important to us.

“So, all these expenditures, you need to supply us with the evidence that the monies you received were meant to take care of those heads of expenditures. Very, very important.”

Meanwhile, another N320 million request was made by the agency to enable it to recruit more staff to reinforce the workforce that have been badly depleted due to ‘japa syndrome’ and retirements are yet to be dispensed.

“Our staff strength is lower than what I met on the ground because of retirement and the japa syndrome,” Professor Adeyeye informed the Committee.