By Tom Okpe
The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has queried irregularities in the registration of subsidiary companies under the Nigerian Postal Service, (NIPOST).
Committee Chairman, James Abiodun Faleke, (APC, Lagos) issued the query when the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, (MOFI) with other agencies, appeared before the committee for an interactive session on the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditures Framework/FSP, on Wednesday at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.
Faleke in his remarks, noted that documents before the Committee showed that two subsidiary companies under NIPOST were registered under individual names as shareholders, instead of the Federal Government, wondering why that was so, since NIPOST is a Dederal Vovernment asset.
He noted that registration of the two subsidiary companies, NIPOST Property Company Ltd and NIPOST Logistics were done with individuals as shareholders.
He raised issues of approval and withdrawals of N10 billion for the purpose of the registration of the subsidiary companies saying: “Is NIPOST part of your asset; I have a document before me. The registration of NIPOST Property Development Company Ltd. I saw that the shareholders of these companies are individuals. Okoh Alexander Ayoola, Adeyemi Alexander, Aliyu Halima; these are personal names. Are people allowed to register NIPOST property in their personal names,” he queried.
“I have NIPOST Logistics, registered in personal names. I want to know from you; did you give CAC permission to register Nigerian assets in personal names; some of them were working as civil servants and some of them, retired.
“Are you also, aware that N10 bilion was approved and withdrawn to be used for the set up of these entities and same N10 billion, came in and went out in the name of NIPOST from an account opened as NIPOST Property; Are you aware of that,” Faleke asked.
In his response, the Chief Executive Officer of MOFI, Dr Armstrong Takang, admitted that there were irregularities within the system and that, he needed the support of the committee to address them.
“The question you raised is precisely why this Committee needs to partner with us in addressing irregularities in our system. The simple answer is simply, no; for a Federal Government entities, the shareholders must be registered under MOFI.
“This was recently brought to my attention and we are on it. We have sent a letter to CAC through Federal Ministry of Finance that they should not register any shareholder in government entity other than MOFI.
“We did also indicate in that letter that whenever any one wants to register a commercial entity for the FG, they ought to request for a letter of no objections from MOFI to ensure that the registration process does not in any way undermine what the law states as far as ownership of government interest is.”
On the issue of N10 billion, reportedly approved and withdrawn for processing the NIPOST subsidiary companies, the CEO said the Bureau of Public Enterprises, (BPE) would be in the best position to answer that questions.
Faleke also said the Federal Government must not accept laxity on the part of any agency, or representative, acting on its behalf in signing deals that affects the country.
He said, the interactive session with the Agencies and stakeholders on government finances was to ensure the passage of the MTEF/FSP before the presentation of the 2024 annual budget.
“The MTEF is the very basis of the annual budget which, itself, is backbone of the implementation of Federal Government’s plans and policies.
“As the representatives of the Nigerian people, a position which we occupy in trust for them, we owe Nigerians the onerous responsibility of delivering the democratic dividends to the door steps of our constituents in line with our campaign promises.
“As the first MTEF/FSP, presented by the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and received by this 10th Assembly, this interactive session is to familiarize ourselves, the House Committee on Finance and all the various agencies who have significant inputs in the MTEF and the National Budget.”
The Committee Chairman, Faleke emphasised that, revenue is crucial on the outcome of the National budget saying that the Committee, observed various factors that have caused shortfalls in expected revenues as well as charges to Government revenues from commitments by agencies of Government.
“The $11 billion P&ID fiasco is still fresh in our minds where the whole Country was almost held hostage to a fraudulent agreement.
“Another agreement signed on behalf of the Government by NBET and Azura Power has committed payments of over $30m per month.
“This agreement is Dollar denominated and applicable even now in times of acute foreign exchange shortages.
“Our revenues have been reducing over the years due to decreases in oil revenues which used to be our major earner. The Committee has vowed to get to the bottom of these oil shortfalls.”
The Accountant General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein who was present at the session, said the Federal Government was doing everything possible to block revenue leakages and shore up, Government revenue.