The Auditor-General for the Federation (AuGF) has revealed that officials of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources spent N116m to buy biros, letterhead and toners in one year.
This emerged on Friday as the AuGF appeared before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts to submit its audit report on some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The Senator Mathew Urhoghide-led committee was scrutinising the 2015 audit report on the Petroleum Ministry when the issue was blown open.
According to a breakdown provided in the audit report, the ministry spent N14.5m to purchase Schneider biros, N46m to print the ministry’s letterhead and N56m to procure toner for its photocopy machines.
The AuGF however issued a query on the expenditure, which read, “The contract for the supply of Schneider biros worth N14.5m was split into smaller packages of less than N5m each and was awarded to four different companies in order to circumvent the permanent secretary’s approval threshold of N5m.
“Similarly, the contract for the printing of the ministry’s letterhead worth N46m was also split and awarded to 11 different contractors.
“Also, the contract for the supply of toners worth N56m was split and awarded to seven different contractors. The permanent secretary has been requested to explain this contravention of the Public Procurement Act 2007.”
Responding to the AuGF query as directed by the Senate Committee’s chairman, the Petroleum Ministry’s representative, Godwin Akubo said, “The action of the ministry was a quick response to the needs of the various departments in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. These awards followed normal rules and procedures.
“The contracts were not split. They were awarded to the various contractors at different times when items were needed.
“The sum of N46.6m used for printing of letterhead followed due process and the large sum of money is explained by the volume of the produced for most of departments.”
However, the Senate Committee said it was not satisfied with the ministry’s defence.
The Committee Chairman said that the ministry’s officials involved in the expenditure must be made to make a refund to the Federal Government.