By Yahaya Wakili, Maiduguri
Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Finance and Accounts of Ministries and extra ministerial departments in Borno State have been running from pillar to pole looking for how to reconcile their accounts and retire billions of Naira squandered in their names in the last four and a half years.
The Government last week directed Permanent secretaries and heads of accounting sections of the various ministries and departments to reconcile their records ahead of their possible invitation by the economic and financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the ongoing investigations of N600 Billion squandered without results in the last four and a half years.
A circular by the secretary to the State Government, SSG, Usman Jidda Shuwa, to all ministries and departments directs the accounting officers and heads of Finance and Accounts to retire overhead costs and obtain relevant documents related to their expenditures, including contracts awarded through their ministries; a practice that was supposed to have been carried out at the end of the year.
Our correspondent reports that, the Ministries were rather surprised at the sudden order, as they have been grumbling over lack of payment of N1 million monthly overhead to each ministry, since Governor Kashim Shettima, came to office four and a half years ago, only to be asked to retire what was not given to them.
Some Accountants told our correspondent in confidence that, they were at loss where to obtain receipts for the retirements, as some of the money they were being asked to retire were never actually used for the purposes they were approved for, neither were the monthly overhead payments forthcoming, to enable them purchase empty receipts for the retirements.
Investigations reveal that, while other statutory ministries have been complaining, the office of the special Adviser, Communications and Strategy which was being allocated over N200 million in every budget, is at pains to reach out to media houses which names were allegedly used to secure approvals, but which were not paid such monies through appropriate means to obtain receipts for such payments.
A source from one of the media houses which entered into media partnership with the state government confirmed to nationalTRAIL that state Government officials have approached them to give empty receipts with which retirements could be made for some of the expenditures being claimed in the names of the media.
Governor Kashim Shettima, has been using the office of the special Adviser, Communications and Strategy, currently occupied by one Isa Umar Gusau, to stave off press criticism by making a separate budgetary provision to the office, to execute his media wars.