Senate on Tuesday questioned the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed over N42m spent on travels in 3 months.
Infoexpert24 gathered that this interrogation took place for several hours for spending N19 million on international travel and N23 million on local travel before the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and subsequent lockdown.
The Senator Danladi Sankara, All Progressives Congress, APC, Jigawa North West led Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation was baffled when the Minister at 2021 Budget defence disclosed the amount spent by the ministry as contained in its 2020 budget.
After the minister’s presentation, the Senate Committee expressed surprise how the ministry could spend such amount particularly when the country was on a lockdown due to the global pandemic.
Recall that the first phase of lockdown in Nigeria began on the 30th of March. Trouble started when the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Francis Onyewuchi, PDP, Imo East questioned the Minister to explain how such sums of money could be expended on travel against the backdrop that the COVID- 19 did not only affect Nigeria, but the entire world.
Senator Onyewuchi asked Lai Mohammed thus, “Let me take you on this your 2020 overhead. You have here on Local travels and transport appropriated is N30 million you expended N23 million on local transport you received N96 million as appropriated as released you expended N90 million. “On International travels and transport, you had N43 million, you expended N19 million.
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 N19 million? So we need to look at that critically and you also tell us here in parliament how you were able to do that?
In his response, the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed who noted that the amount was spent when they travelled for international summits along side an advocacy done in the United Kingdom before March, said, “You will notice that N43m was budgeted but less than 40% 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, in the UK. We have done advocacy in the UK at the same time.