Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information on Tuesday said his ministry has spent N19 million on international travels before the coronavirus lockdown was effected.
He made this disclosure during the Ministry of Information budget’s defence at the National Assembly while reacting to questions from the legislators regarding the ministry’s 2020 expenditure in its 2020 budget.
The Senate Committee on Information inquired how the ministry was able to spend such an amount, especiallywhen the country was on a lockdown.
Sen rancis Onyewuchi, a member of the committee asked further questions on the issue. He said: ”On International travels and transport, you had N43 million and you expended N19 million. So I am wondering, this period of lockdown where nobody was able to go to any country, how were you able to embark on international travels and you expended N19 million? Tell us here in parliament how you were able to do that?
“Most part of the year we had travel restrictions. I am sure you will remember you did a lot of enlightenment programme on this and I am sure you will remember that most of us were prevented from moving into other states, so I don’t know how you also had the luxury of spending the entire amount that was appropriated on those travels. So those are the information we need to get from your expenditure.”
In his reaction, Mr Lai Mohammed explained ”You will notice that N43million was budgeted but less than 40 per cent was spent, precisely because of the COVID-19. And before then, remember that we had travelled to attend several international summits starting from the UNWTO conference, UNESCO in Spain, in the UK. We have done advocacy in the UK at the same time.
“All before the lockdown. I think our last trip was actually in Addis Ababa when we accompanied the President to the AU. That was about March before the lockdown. The lockdown came at the end of March. So whatever we spent here was before the lockdown.”