By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives’ Public Accounts Committee has resolved to carry out a fresh investigation into allegations that the former Director General of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Prof. Bola Akinterinwa incurred a lot of debts for the Institute arising from his alleged reckless spending on personal travels and contracts award without recourse to budgetary allocations or available funds.
The allegations came through as the Rep. Oluwole Oke-led panel was almost dispensing with the audit query by the Office of the Auditor General to the Federation that the agency was liable of not rendering audited accounts since 2010 to date.
Director in charge of Research and Documentation, Abimbola Dada made the allegations which were corroborated by the current DG, Prof. Bukar Bukarambe, as well as the Director of Finance and Admin, Mrs. Bridget Otoboh who said all the documents were available to prove the allegations.
Prof. Akinterinwa had appeared before the committee and alleged that a system of entrenched corruption and manipulation by those heading the account section of the Institute was responsible for the failure to render audited accounts for almost 10 years.
He particularly mentioned one Agatha Udeh, former Director, Finance and Admin of the Institute, accusing her of “unbridled corruption, insincerity and insubordination, aided by the former DG, Prof. Osita and the then chairman, Governing Council, Sen. Ike Nwachukwu.
He noted that the Institute lagged behind in submitting audited reports due to the professional incompetence of the DFA, Udeh, to the extent that he had to write to the AuGF to send a seasoned accountant to manage the account department. He added that the accountant sent to him was equally frustrated out of the place.
Asked how he resolved the issues, he said he reported the matter to the Governing Council, led by Sen. Ike Nwachukwu and the response was, “Noted”!
He said with the collusion of the Governing Council, so much corruption was perpetrated even under his watch as DG. He then told the panel that his outstanding payment of N4 million should be released to him.
It was at this point that Mrs Dada alleged that Prof. Akinterinwa, may be a brilliant individual, but was poor in leadership due to high handedness and abuse of office.
She recalled that a petition written and signed herself and Agatha Udeh, now at large, as well as one other was the reason why he was asked to go after his first tenure expired in 2015.
“The reason why the Institution did not pay the former DG his outstanding claims was because he engaged in reckless spending mostly on personal travels and tours without recourse to government financial regulation and as such could not be paid”, director Abimbola Dada, who is due to retire in less than 2 months from now said.
She also alleged that he incurred alot of debts which the Institute is struggling to clear, including fees to contractors he engaged to do certain works without budgetary allocations nor releases.
At this point, the panel noted that the allegations were too weighty to be overlooked, directing that Prof. Akonterinwa submits his claims of N4 million debt and the current DG (Prof. Bukarembu), should also submits his own defense as to why he shouldn’t be paid.
On the whole, the panel ruled that a probe be carried out to clear the issues raised and make recommendations as appropriate.
It also resolved to call on the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to as a matter of necessity separate the Finance department from that of Administration.
Chairman Wole Oke noted that there is no way a single individual would be in charge of funds as well as the power to recommend hiring, discipline and even firing of staff without abusing such power.