The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating the utilisation of ecological funds released to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) has uncovered ₦81.2 billion allegedly spent to plant 21m trees in 11 states.
The investigation is from 2015 till date Rep. Isma’ila Dabo, the Chairman of the committee in Abuja, decried the persistent of environmental challenges in spite of funds put into the programme.
He said the funds put by the Federal Government and international partners necessitated the investigation. He said the committee would embark on, on-the-spot assessment tour to all the projects executed under this scheme to ascertain the claims.
He said the committee was not out to scandalise any individual or organisation but only to ensure that public funds were utilised for the purpose they were given.
“We will not shy away from pointing fingers where necessary, not out of personal animosity but simply in the national interest of our nation.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 11 states where the trees are planted are: Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
The committee expressed displeasure over conflicting financial reports submitted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and office of the Accountant General of the Federation (oAGF) to the committee.
Piqued by the inability of the agency to substantiate most of the tree planting projects carried out so far, the committee said 80% of trees planted by the agency did not survive.
Meanwhile, the documents submitted by the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein showed that the total sum of ₦19.378 billion was released from the derivation and Ecology Accounts to the agency from Feb 2019 to date.
Responding to questions from the committee, NAGGW Managing Director, Dr Yusuf Bukar, said the Great Green Wall Act was signed by Mr. President in 2015. He said it enabled the agency to implement the Nigerian component of the programme as an initiative of the African Union being implemented in 11 African countries.
This according to him, is to address the problem of land degradation, desertification, drought, climate change and livelihood of affected communities. He said the agency planted 1 million trees in Borno, Yobe and other states, adding that ₦2.4 billion was released in the first phase and ₦7.3 billion released in the second phase.
He added that the fund accruing into the agency’s account included 15% of the ecological fund for the Great Green Wall, contribution of fund from the natural resources development fund and gifts.
Others include loans and grants in aid from national bilateral, multilateral organisations and donors, international and development agencies as well as individuals. He said that the agency often got funds from donor agencies; however, he did not provide relevant documents on the amount received so far.