BusinessDay

Reps summon interior minister, others over foreign missions’ consultancy cost

The House of Representatives has summoned the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbeshola, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Shuaibu Belgore and the acting comptroller general of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Idris Jere to appear before it on Wednesday to address the high cost of consultancy services in Nigeria’s foreign missions.

The House committee on public accounts committee (PAC) reached this resolution at the weekend after it grilled the NIS over engagement of consultants to manage visa and passport related matters at the nation’s missions across the world as raised in query by the office of the auditor-general of the federation against the service.

The PAC chairman, Oluwole Oke expressed displeasure over the engagement which was costing Nigeria a lot of money and demanded that it should be stopped immediately in view of the fact that NIS personnel are adequately trained for the same purpose.

Oke made reference to a scenario in South Africa where out of $213 generated, a consultant took $90 with only $15 coming to the Nigerian purse in the face of dwindling revenue, forcing the country to borrow to finance its budget.

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“We visited our embassies and the auditor-general raised some queries on some missions, so we visited South Africa and Atlanta, US. We discovered that Nigeria is losing money through your operations. You engaged consultants to manage your passports and visas platform

“In our opinion, NIS personnel were trained to manage visa and passport matters. That is your core mandate. So on what basis are you now engaging consultants.

“What are your personnel doing? Why did we train you and engage you? Your personnel are idle, roaming the streets, sitting down in the offices and consultants are doing your job and taking away our money.

“The minister of interior, the permanent secretary and the comptroller general have to come with the agreement you signed and give reasons why they have to deny personnel trained and employed to do this work. You are also exposing Nigerians to risk in terms of data protection. We owe Nigerians a high duty of care and we would discharge it.”

The committee also directed NIS to furnish it with procurement records for utilisation of money collected through service wide votes and deployed for capital purposes from 2013 to 2018, saying this was necessary due to discrepancies in the submissions by the Service to the parliament on how the funds were managed over the years.