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Law makers grill NCAA over unspent N11bn, summons minister over BASA funds expenditure

The Senate has uncovered an unused revenue surplus of about N11billion in the coffers of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and has summoned the agency’s head to give justifiable reasons why the federal government should continue to partially fund the regulatory agency given the amount of unused money in its coffers.

This is just as it also summoned the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, to explain the alleged expenditures from the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and Safety Funds domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the NCAA.

The chairman, senate committee on finance, Mr. Solomon Adeola who issued the directive at the opening of a five-day stakeholders’ interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditures Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) in Abuja.

The N11Billion represents revenue surplus for the 2019 fiscal year after the expenditure of the agency’s overhead cost for that year.

NCAA director of Finance, Ms Bilkisu Sani, who represented the Director General of the regulatory agency, told the lawmakers that NCAA was fully sustained by its revenues, adding that it does not receive money from the federal government.

She noted that NCAA made 18billion in 2018; N18.677billion in 2019 and N8.634billion so far in 2020 as revenues, with staff strength of 1,400 and N500million annual wage bill.

The director added that the agency consequently contributed N1.6bn, N3bn, and N700m to the consolidated account so far to the coffers of the Federal Government in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively, a revelation which raised eyebrows of the committee members.

The Senate consequently raised questions on the N11billion revenue surplus for the 2019 fiscal year after the expenditure of the agency’s overhead cost for the year.

Sani said part of the surplus revenue was being spent on both local and foreign training in order to build the capacity of staff to be able to execute the mandate of the regulatory agency.

Unsatisfied with the explanation provided by the NCAA’s director, the joint Senate committee asked the director general of the agency to appear before it yesterday, Thursday, with justifiable reasons why the federal government should continue to partially fund the regulatory agency given the amount of unused money in its kitty.

Adeola who gave the directive said Sani’s explanations about the N11billion lying fallow in the agency were untenable.

“Frivolous expenditures will not be celebrated. We need good justifications to support your expenditures and why this committee should continue to support such expenditure in this time of economic downturn,” Adeola said.

The joint committee also summoned the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, to explain the alleged expenditures from the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and Safety Funds domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the NCAA.

The directive followed a revelation from the presentation by NCAA director of finance, Sani, on the status of BASA and Safety Funds operated by NCAA, at the interactive session.

Sani had revealed that the minister, Sirika was responsible for the Funds by authorizing expenditures from them on the developments in the Aviation sector.

The revelation which stirred controversy, led the committee to declare that no official can authorize spending from the Funds except the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sirika was expected to appear before the joint committee by 11am Thursday (Yesterday).

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Nigerianflightdeck is an online news and magazine platform reporting business stories with a bias for aviation and travel. It is borne out of the intention to inform, educate as well as alter perceptions with balanced reportage.

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