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In what seems to be a clear departure from Mr President’s mantra to fight corruption and enthrone the rule of law, Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has written the National Broadcasting Commission demanding a ‘loan’ of N13, 120, 470 (thirteen million, one hundred and twenty thousand naira only) as logistics for him and his team to travel to China on assignment they have termed is in the interest of the nation.
The memo says the loan will be repaid as soon as the ministry receives its allocation, and attached approvals from the Permanent Secretary and the Honourable Minister’s approval.
This request and demand is illegal as it goes directly against civil service procurement and protocol rules. Apart from the disregarding and exceeding the approval limit of the acting Director General which the Honourable Minister is enabling, the vague purpose of the trip is not under the purview of the National Broadcasting Commission.
Also, is the NBC a bank or official lender? Are taxes and other levies Nigerians are groaning under fodder for lending transactions between ministries and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s)? Isn’t it criminal to pledge government credit, expending more than N13, 000, 000 of the budget allocated to the Ministry of Information even before it has been released?
It begs the question, how many other MDA’s under the Ministry is the Honourable Minister borrowing money from? How many others is he encouraging to break the law and flout procurement and civil service rules?
Is this also flagrant insensitivity considering that auxiliary staff of the Commission have not been paid, the NBC Zonal offices have been without imprest for months, and zonal offices are without funds?
Is this forced approval not also criminal considering that against the media celebration and fanfare of the Digital Switch Over kick off in Jos, Set Top Boxes suppliers have not been paid so the boxes are stuck at the ports incurring demurrage?
Finally, is the NBC, with the 34 billion naira Emeka Mba and his team raised from licensing spectrum to MTN, suddenly the Ministry’s beautiful bride and cash cow?
Which matter ‘in the interest of the country’ according to the honourable Minister are worth N13, 120, 470 (thirteen million, one hundred and twenty thousand naira only) in travel expenses?
That is the question.