The House of Representatives (Reps) Ad Hoc Committee investigating the utilization of ecological funds released to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) has uncovered N81.2 billion allegedly spent to plant twenty-one million trees in eleven states.
Chronicle NG reports that the investigation spans from 2015 to date.
Rep. Isma’ila Dabo, the chairman of the committee in Abuja, decried the persistence of environmental challenges in spite of the funds put into the program.
He said the funds provided by the federal government and international partners necessitated the investigation.
He said the committee would embark on an on-the-spot assessment tour of all the projects executed under this scheme to ascertain the claims.
He said the committee was not out to scandalize any individual or organization but only to ensure that public funds were utilized for the purpose for which 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.”
Reports disclosed that the trees were planted in eleven states: Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe, and Borno.
The committee expressed displeasure over conflicting financial reports submitted to it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (oAGF).
Piqued by the agency’s inability to substantiate most of the tree planting projects carried out so far, the committee said 80 percent of the 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 a total sum of N19.378 billion was released from the derivation and ecology accounts to the agency from February 2019 to date.
Responding to questions from the committee, NAGGW Managing Director, Dr. Yusuf Bukar, said the Great Green Wall Act was signed by the President in 2015.
He said it enabled the agency to implement the Nigerian component of the program as an initiative of the African Union being implemented in 11 African countries.
This, according to him, is to address the problems of land degradation, desertification, drought, climate change, and the livelihood of affected communities.
He said the agency planted one million trees in Borno, Yobe, and other states, adding that N2.4 billion was released in the first phase and N7.3 billion in the second phase.
He added that the funds accruing into the agency’s account included 15 percent of the ecological fund for the Great Green Wall, contributions from the natural resources development fund, and gifts.
Others include loans and grants in aid from national bilateral and multilateral organizations and donors, international and development agencies, as well as individuals.
He said that the agency often gets funds from donor agencies; however, he did not provide relevant documents on the amount received so far.