By Tom Okpe
The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has placed the National Lottery Trust Fund on investigations for spending 100 percent of its internally generated revenue, (IGR).
This means the Committee will appoint an external auditor to audit the accounts of the Fund and reports would be made available to the House for further action.
Chairman of the Committee, Rep James Faleke, also directed the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and Office of the Accountant General, to also probe the Fund and submit their reports to the Committee.
This was stated at the Committee’s sitting on Monday, when the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Bello Maigari, appeared before the Committee in the ongoing 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper interactive session with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs).
Presenting his submission on remittances to the Federal Government, Bello told the Committee that the Fund has so far, in 2023 generated N2, 492, 996, 588.13 of which the entire sum was expended on various projects.
Bello said the money was raised from statutory remittances from licensees and permits holders.
He also told the Committee that N6.28 billion was generated in 2022, but the amount was also, spent on various projects carried out by the Fund.
He added that the Fund spent and incurred a deficit of N255 million in 2022 because they had a carryover of liabilities in 2021.
Responding to this, Faleke said; “It’s like the Government opened this agency for you and your family. That is what you are saying. That is the meaning.
“You generated almost N2.5 billion and you spent the N2.5 billion to the last kobo. You generated N2, 492, 996, 588.13 from one source, then expended the exact same amount. And you put performance, 100 percent.
“We are going to carry out a status enquiry on the Nigerian Lottery Trust Fund. Status enquiry means we are going to bring in an external auditor to audit your accounts, your books, all your income and expenses from day one to date.
“We would send our report to the plenary and if you are found guilty, you will be made to refund all expenditure and any other punishment thereof,” he said.
Faleke said the Fund was fully funded by the Federal Government, hence it was bound by law to remit 100% of its IGR.
“As it’s expected of a fully funded Government agency, so you generated over N3 billion in 2022. You were expected to remit that amount,” he said.
On what the N6.2 billion revenue in 2022 was spent on, Bello said they intervened in many areas including education, sports development, social services, public welfare and disaster management.
Bello surprised the lawmakers when he said the Fund was expected to pay emoluments, allowances and benefits of members of its board, as well as salaries and allowances of staff.
The Committee queried how this could be, as the ES/CEO had already, submitted that it was a fully funded organization by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRSC) and the Lagos International Trade Fair, also appeared before the panel.
Corps Marshall of the FRSC, Dauda Biu and the Chief Executive Officer of the Trade Fair, Veronica Ndanusa, were directed by the Committee to ensure, they have all relevant submissions for the committee by the next sitting.