House panel threatens to stop funds to NSIA over budget row

The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has resolved to direct the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and the Office of Accountant General of the Federation to withhold funds allocated to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

The embargo would be put in place if the agency insists that it would not present its budget before the committee.

The committee chairman, James Faleke (APC, Lagos), announced this at the commencement of the budget defence session organised by the committee on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to Mr Faleke, the agency is basing its refusal to present its budget before the committee on the Act establishing it

Section 5—1g of the Act of the NSIA reads, “undertake, do or agree to do any activity or incur such expenditure and carry out such ventures which in the opinion of the Board are necessary, incidental or conducive for the attainment for the objects and functions of the Authority.”

The NSIA Act was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The agency invests funds on behalf of the three tiers of governments through the future generation fund, Nigeria infrastructure fund and stability fund.

Mr Faleke said he spoke with the Managing Director of NSIA, Umar Sodiq, on presenting its budget before the committee but that the MD insisted that the agency’s budget is approved only by its board.

The chairman said the Act establishing NSIA is not superior to the Constitution.

“This agency of government (NSIA) has refused consistently to present their budget before the national assembly. We have spoken to the MD and we advised him that it is against the Constitution.

“The agency is relying on its law, which says that its board shall approve its budget. I have told the agency that the law, whether made in error or rightly is not superior to the Constitution,” he said.

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