Senate queries NCAA about N11bn unspent fund

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The senate joint committee on finance and national planning yesterday uncovered about N11 billion surplus fund in the coffers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and summoned its director general, Capt. Musa Nuhu to appear before it.

The chairman, senate committee on finance, Mr. Solomon Adeola who issued the directive at the opening of a five-day stakeholders’ interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditures Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) in Abuja demanded an explanation to what the N11 billion was meant for.

The money represents revenue surplus for the 2019 fiscal year after the expenditure of the agency’s overhead cost for that year.

The director of finance at NCAA, Ms. Bilkisu Sani, who represented Nuhu at the interactive session, tried unsuccessfully to convince the lawmakers that the surplus fund was part of revenue spent on both local and foreign training of the agency’s staff.

She said the agency is self-sustaining and that with a staff strength of 1, 400 and N500 million wage bill annually, NCAA made N18 billion in 2018 and 2019 respectively and N8.634 billion so far in 2020.

She also said the agency contributed N1.6 billion, N3 billion to the federation account in 2018 and 2019 respectively and N700 million so far in 2020.

However, Adeola said Sani’s explanation was untenable and insisted that Nuhu should come with justifiable reasons the federal government should continue to partially fund the regulatory agency given the amount of unused money in its kitty.

“Frivolous expenditures will not be celebrated. We need good justification to support your expenditures and why this committee should continue to support such expenditure in this time of economic downturn,” Adeola said.

The joint committee also summoned the minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika to explain the alleged expenditure from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and Safety Funds domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the NCAA.

The directive followed Sani’s revelation on the status of BASA and Safety Funds operated by NCAA.

She had revealed that the minister was responsible for the funds and that he authorises expenditure for the development of the aviation sector. Miffed by the revelation, the committee said no official can authorise spending from the Funds except the president.

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