Nigeria’s agriculture ministry spent N18.9 billion on bush clearing during the COVID-19 lockdown, heard the House of Representatives in a probe hearing of the ministry’s expenditure.
Wole Oke, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on public accounts, said the ministry disclosed this while responding to a probe on how it spent N18.9 billion.
The agric ministry is the subject of an investigation by the House committee into a N18.9 billion contract for bush clearing, preparing the ground, and restoring soil plant laboratories during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
“During the lockdown of the country as a result of COVID-19, some companies took contracts worth about N18 billion for bush clearing from the federal ministry of agriculture for land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others. We cannot shave their heads in their absence,” Mr Oke said.
He further revealed that the committee invited the companies that implemented the project to appear before the committee.
“We have invited them to come and give us their own side by responding to the issues and show us the places they are supposed to have cleared. They have to take us to the land they cleared,” the committee’s chair said.
He added, “We have invited the ministry of agriculture, and they have made (a) submission. But some of our members whose constituencies these projects were supposed to be domiciled doubted the existence of these projects, and for (a) fair hearing, we have invited the companies that got the contract for them to come and tell this committee where and when the jobs were executed.”
Mr Oke said the committee would thoroughly investigate all relevant details regarding the contract.