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Senate queries NEITI over N960m personnel expenditure to 43 staff

  • Politics

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has come under fire from the Senate Committee on Public Accounts for a N960 million personnel expense in the 2022 budget that was allocated to 43 staff.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya, over the weekend, said N960m was assigned for staff costs and N760.9m was earmarked for overhead costs while submitting the budget to the committee. He added that capital expenditures was N344m.

He continued by saying that 51% of the human costs had already been incurred, pointing out that just 50% of the capital had been disbursed because 58% of the overhead costs had already been spent.

However, in his answer, the committee’s chairman, Mathew Urhoghide, voiced worries about the agency’s wasteful expenditure, asserting that as of November 2022, the organization had already spent 51% of its employee costs. He said that the agency’s excessively high personnel costs were the cause of this.

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He said, “You have only taken 51 per cent of your personnel cost in November. Your personnel cost is too high; you have only two months, and you have just collected 51 percent of your personnel cost.

“This is one case of a personnel budget over-bloated. What we are saying is that it is systemic leakage. We will reduce your personnel cost to less than N500 million.”

In response, the executive secretary stated that although the agency had initially solely covered oil and gas, it has now expanded to cover solid minerals and needed more personnel to carry out its duties.

Ogbonnaya further disclosed that the organization now employs 43 people.

He claimed that the process of hiring more employees had just been completed and that the agency had received approval to do so. This funding was included in the budget for 2022.

He further stated that IPPIS had already taken note of the newly hired 70 staff workers and that they had not yet received payment.

Ibrahim Danbaba, a committee member, requested the NEITI executive secretary present the agency’s nominal role in order to verify what he told the lawmakers.

Source: Ripples Nigeria