Despite the Presidential directive stopping the RUGA controversial Ruga scheme, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture spent a whopping N3.809 billion on the scheme without Presidential or National Assembly approval in 2019. This expenditure forms part of the N60,795,898,225.84 billion expenditures by the Ministry queried by the Auditor General in eight different audit queries contained in the 2019 Auditor General’s report already submitted to the National Assembly for consideration by the Office of the Auditor-General.
The queries are contained in the Auditor General for the Federation’s annual report on the non-compliance/internal control weaknesses issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government as at the year ended 31st December 2019, dated 15th September 2021, and signed by the Auditor General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu.
A copy of the report which has been submitted to the National Assembly through the office of the Clark, obtained by The Nation revealed that, in violation of the Presidential directive to suspend the Ruga Scheme issued on the 3rd of July, 2019, the Ministry initiated and paid out N3.433 billion without due process between August 1 and September 13, 2019. The Ruga scheme was flagged off on Thursday 21st May 2019 but was later suspended through a Presidential Directive issued on Tuesday 3rd July 2019.
The report said, “Ninety-five (95) Payment Vouchers were raised and paid from RUGA Intervention Fund between 1st August 2019 and 13th September 2019 totaling N3,433,984,692.66 and the above payments were initiated and paid without due process after the Presidential directive suspending the RUGA project”.
The report also states that the Ministry also paid out an additional N375,785,893.75 to some individuals and corporate organizations from the RUGA funds through 13 payment vouchers without approval. The payment it said includes N202,700,000.00 and N160 million paid for transportation and other expenses in support of victims of Armed Banditry in Zamfara State and Advance for Sensitization and Advocacy visits to State Governor, respectively.
It said the Ministry’s response to the two expenses was that “the actions are regretted ad is also being investigated”, attributing the action to weaknesses in the internal control system at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. It recommended that the monies spent from the Ruga Intervention fund be refunded to the government treasury as it runs contrary to the extant laws and the financial regulations of the country.