THE Senate has uncovered how a management staff in the Ministry of Petroleum paid N145 million media campaign on Petroleum Industrial Bill, PIB, to himself.
The exposé was drawn from a 2015 query submitted by the Auditor General of the Federation to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts for probe and subsequent action.
The committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, revealed that the staff, rather than award the contract to competent and technically experienced companies, decided to give himself the job.
The query was raised when the representative of the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Godwin Akubo, appeared before the committee to defend the allegation.
It reads: “The total sum of N145 million was approved by the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTB) and paid to a management staff for electronic billboard advertisement, television jingles and newspaper publications, for the campaign awareness of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), instead of contract award to competent and technically experienced companies through open competitive bidding to ensure transparency and accountability.
“Invoices and receipts of payment from the purported companies and agencies, whose services were engaged in the implementation of the programme, were not tendered for audit.”
The ministry in its response, said: “The Director of Press has wealth of experience with coverage. His key role or involvement bridged the gap between the Ministry and media houses based on the public relations.
“He helped to fast track and reached out to target audience in good time. Therefore, his service was a blessing to the Ministry.“
However, Akubo was unable to tender invoices and receipt of the N145 million media campaign contract, a development which angered the panel members.
Senator Urhoghide sustained the query and demanded the refund of the N145 million to the federation account.