OrderPaperToday- The House of Representatives has commenced investigations to ascertain the quantum of unclaimed funds belonging to the federal government hanging in commercial banks across the nation.
This development follows a motion sponsored by Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau) to look into infractions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and unclaimed funds in Nigeria’s commercial banks.
The Adhoc Committee chaired by Uyime Idem (PDP, Akwa lbom) subsequently inaugurated by the House last week, commenced hearing on the matter on Monday as the CBN, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Accountant General’s Office, Ministry of Finance, commercial banks and other stakeholders were in attendance.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase, who declared the hearing open, said it was not a witch hunt exercise but one to improve the system so as to expose corruption, and come out with interventions that would improve and mitigate the situation.
“We hope this assignment would improve our system in terms of value addition. This assignment is line with section 88, 86 of the Nigerian constitution among the powers of the National Assembly to conduct investigative hearing either to improve on the loss or to expose corruption or waste.
This I believe from the body of the motion that about N1.2 trillion not paid into consolidated revenue, so that we can improve the infrastructure deficit and other challenges in our nation,” he added.
On his part, the Committee Chairman said the exercise had become compellingly imperative as Nigeria’s budget deficit continues to grow viz-a-viz the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years.
“It has exceeded the 3% benchmark in the last three years. The highest was in 2021 at 3.67% while that of 2020 was 3.03%.
These deficits are being financed by Domestic and Foreign Loans which are no longer sustainable as the debts are mounting in the face of our dwindling resources and on the other hand, our nation is faced with multi-faceted challenges ranging from insecurity, high rate of unemployment and hyper inflation to mention just a few,” Idem added.
Ben Akabueze, Director-General of Budget Office who represented the Finance Minister expressed readiness to work with the Committee in unearthing all federal government balances that may still be hanging in any of the commercial banks.
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Akabueze spoke on the existence of an extant regulation issued by the CBN on October 2015, providing guidelines for the management of inactive accounts, dormant accounts and unclaimed funds. He further stressed that there have been circulars of government seeking its enforcement and obligates any bank to have notified the Federal government of the existence of any such funds belonging to it.
“I hope that without prejudice to the work of this committee that the CBN will also do the job of enforcing its own guidelines. As the work of the committee progresses, whatever other specific information required of us as a ministry we will be able to provide.”