• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Senate queries Lai Mohammed over N19m foreign trips during COVID-19

Nowhere safe globally if terrorism thrives – Lai Mohammed

The Senate on Tuesday queried the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Lai Mohammed, on how the ministry spent N19 million on international travel during the COVID-19 lockdown.

He was asked to explain when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Information chaired by Senator Danladi Sankara (Jigawa North-West) for the ministry’s 2021 budget defence.

The Senator representing Imo East, Ezennwa Onyewuchi, made the observation in his comment.

Onyewuchi said: “Let me take you on this 2020 overhead. You have here on Local travels and transport appropriated is N30million you expended N23million on local transport you recieved N96million as appropriated as released and you expended N90million.

“On International travels and transport you had N43million and you expended N19million.

“So I am wondering this period of lockdown where nobody was able to go to any country during the 2020 appropriation, how were you able to embark on international travels and you expended N19million.”

Mohammed in his response said the international travels were embarked before the COVID-19 lockdown.

He said, “You will notice that N43 million was budgeted but less than 40 per cent was spent precisely because of the COVID-19 and before then remember that we had travelled to attend several international summits starting UNWTO conference, UNESCO in Spain and in the UK. We also did advocacy in the UK at the same time. These were all before the lockdown.

“I think our last trip was actually in Addis Ababa when we accompanied the President to the African Union Summit and that was about March 2020 before the lockdown.

“The lockdown came at the end of March. So whatever we spent here was before the lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Committee called for more budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Information and Culture.

Sankara said, “As a matter of fact, we are not happy with the budget that they put in the Ministry of Information and Culture because the budget is not enough.

“There are so many schedules in your ministry and it is our duty to try all we can do to intervene in the matter.

“We have to contact the Minister of Finance and also the Budget Office to reconsider the allocation given to the Ministry of information and Culture.”