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    Thursday, February 22, 2024

    Nigerian University Spends N106 million on Christmas Hampers, illegal Bonuses – Audit Report

    The report by the Auditor General of the Federation has accused the management of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, of spending an unapproved N106 million for Christmas hampers and payment of “productivity bonus” to board members.

    The report also accused the university of making several other financial infractions including payments of N41 million ‘sitting allowance’ to persons who are not entitled to such.

    Other infractions include N7.5 million unauthorised spending; N165 million unauthorised investments, and failure to account for the interests accrued from the investments.

    This revelation is coming at a time the Nigerian universities are hiking fees payable by students, insisting the hike was a result of the increasing cost of running the institutions and maintaining their facilities.

    In 2021, the university hiked fees payable by students, a development that sparked students’ protests on campus. After meeting with student representatives, the institution reached certain agreements but much of the new fees remained.

    Again, the management of Nnamdi Azikiwe University also jerked up its fees by almost 100 per cent in 2023 when many Nigerian universities announced new fees.

    When contacted on the phone, the spokesperson for the university, Ene Chika, insisted the reporter, who is based in Abuja, must meet her at the office in Awka before she would respond to any question.

    Christmas hamper, productivity bonus

    The audit report, which is for the year 2020 and submitted to the National Assembly in December, said the university spent N106 million on “Christmas hampers, cows, the redemption of thanksgiving pledges and productivity bonus to Board Members”.

    The auditor general disclosed that there was no evidence of appropriation for the spending.

    The audit report, therefore, recommended that the House of Representatives’ committee on public accounts should ask the institution’s vice-chancellor to provide a justification for the payment.

    “Otherwise, sanctions relating to irregular payments and failure to spend public funds effectively specified in paragraphs 3106 and 3115 of the Financial Regulations 2009 respectively, should apply,” it stated.

    Unmerited sitting allowances

    An April 2016 Establishment Circular stipulates that the Chief Executive Officers and other public servants on monthly salaries who are board members in their institutions’ establishments are not entitled to a sitting allowance.

    However, the university allegedly violated this by paying N41 million to some officers of the universities as sitting allowances for the institution’s 115th council committee meeting held on 21st December 2018.

    The report also noted that the amount paid through two vouchers resulted in the duplication of payment for sitting allowances.

    The Audit report, therefore, asked the university to justify the irregular payment to the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly or “recover and remit the sum of N41,203,465.00 to the Treasury.”

    “Otherwise, sanctions relating to irregular payment, failure to manage public funds effectively, and gross misconduct prescribed in paragraphs 3106, 3115, and 3129 of the Financial Regulations 2009 respectively, should apply,” it stated.

    Unauthorised Investments

    Also, the university was accused of making unauthorised investments and failing to account for the interest accrued from the investments.

    According to the report, the university put N165 million in five different investments, in violation of investment directives as contained in the financial regulations.

    Paragraph 739 of the Financial Regulations (FR) 2009 states that “idle funds in the Bank Accounts of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies shall only be invested in Treasury Bills in accordance with extant circulars.”

    A January 2014 circular from the Accountant-General of the federation also informed all MDAs that they must inform the Accountant-General office of the terms of the investment and obtain approval before doing so.

    “All such interests earned on any invested fund must be remitted on a monthly basis into the CRF failure of which shall be deemed as a violation of the extant rules and therefore attract appropriate sanction,” the circular stated as quoted by the audit report.

    The audit report, therefore, noted that there was no evidence of approval from the Accountant-General of the Federation authorising the investments. Also, evidence of interest that accrued from the investments was not produced for audit.

    The report listed the investments to include the NAU local innovation project in which the university invested N10.5 million. It added that the university invested N8.2 million in investment shares; N85 million investment in American Hospital Abuja; N62 million investment in NAU OSIL (Water project); and N41,482 Broadcast Right.

    “Relevant documents and information such as share certificates, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) records showing details of the companies and the number of shares held amounting to N8,260,254.00 (Eight million, two hundred and sixty thousand, two hundred and fifty four naira) in serial number 2 in the Table above, were not presented for audit,” the report added.


    The report noted that the institution also violated the constitution and financial regulations by spending more than the appropriated amount on projects.

    In 2018, the university spent N17.5 million on furniture allowance, N7.5 million above the approved N10 million naira, the report stated.

    “Evidence of approval for the extra-budgetary spending was not produced for audit,” the report added.

    This spending violated Section 80(4) of the Nigerian constitution, which stated that: “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”

    Meanwhile, the Financial Regulation 2009 also states that the “expenditure shall strictly be classified in accordance with the estimate, and votes must be applied only to the purpose for which the money is provided. Expenditure incorrectly charged to a vote shall be disallowed.”

    University keeps mum

    When contacted for reaction on the allegations contained in the report, the spokesperson for the university, Ms Chika, insisted on seeing the reporter one-on-one before making any comment on the matter.

    Despite listing the allegations and referencing the report by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation as the source of the allegations, the official declined comments. PREMIUM TIMES

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