The Senate on Tuesday, November 3, grilled the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed asking him to give broader explanations over N19 million expended on foreign trips within three months by his ministry.
While appearing before the Senate Committee on Information, Lai Mohammed claimed that his ministry spent N19million on foreign trips between January 1st and March 30 when the COVID-19 Lockdown started.
A member of the Committee, Sen Francis Onyewuchi while reviewing the budget performance of 2020 stated:
“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?
“For the most part of the year, we had travel restrictions I am sure you will remember you did a lot of enlightenment program on this and I am sure you will remember that most of us were prevented from moving into other states; so I don’t know how you also had the luxury of spending the entire amount that was appropriated on those travels so those are the information we need to get from your expenditure.”
Mohammed in his defence said the expenditure represents less than 40% of the entire allocation to foreign trips for the 2020 budget.
“You will notice that N43million was budgeted; but less than 40% was spent precisely because of the COVID-19.
“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.
“All before the knockdown, I think our last trip was actually in Addis Ababa; when we accompany the President to the AU that was about March before the knockdown; the knockdown came at the end of March.”