Minister of Women Affairs Confronts Lawmakers Over Non-Payment of Contractors

  • The House Committee on Women’s Affairs and Social Development questioned the Minister of Women Affairs over the non-payment of N1.5 billion to contractors despite the release of funds
  • The heated exchange escalated as the minister accused the committee of unfair treatment and lack of respect, leading to the hearing being adjourned indefinitely

A tense exchange occurred at the House of Representatives as the Committee on Women’s Affairs and Social Development questioned the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye, regarding the non-payment of N1.5 billion to contractors despite the release of funds.

The committee initiated the investigation following a petition from contractors who had not been paid for their completed projects for the ministry. At a previous session, the committee summoned the minister to explain the non-payment and ordered the suspension of all 2024 contract processes by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs until the issue was resolved.

Committee Chairperson Rep Kafilat Ogbara emphasized that the hearing aimed to uncover the truth, not to conduct a witch-hunt. When questioned about the unpaid contractors, the minister claimed that funds had not been released to the ministry. However, the committee disputed this, noting that the Director of Finance and Accounts had confirmed the release of funds.

Director of Finance and Accounts Aloy Ifeakandu clarified that only 25 percent of the contract sum had been released to the ministry.

The committee scrutinized various expenditures detailed in the ministry’s documents, such as N45 million for a New Year celebration for children and N20 million for soap and sanitary pads for New Year babies. They also questioned the N1.5 million the minister claimed to have spent on fuel for a trip to Anambra State, which the minister defended.

As the committee delved into additional alleged irregularities, the hearing escalated into a heated argument between the minister and the panel. The minister accused the committee of unfair treatment and raised her voice, leading to accusations of rudeness and insult towards the parliament.

Chairperson Kafilat adjourned the hearing indefinitely, stating that the committee would report the minister’s uncooperative attitude and lack of respect for the parliament.

The following is a transcript of the exchange:

LAWMAKER: Honorable minister and your team, Mr. DFA, I am at a loss because fortunately, I attended the last meeting. And one of the reasons why we took you on oath was to get the truth from you, but today you have deviated. You have deviated, because you did say, yes, there was a release of money and you took instruction from the principal.

And there and then, I confronted the permanent secretary. He said he was not in the know. And I am still making my statement that you are running the ministry with your minister.

MINISTER: I take exception to that. I don’t want this type of allegation.

LAWMAKER: Please don’t interrupt honourable member. Please let her finish.

MINISTER: I am no slave to anybody. I don’t want it. She should withdraw that statement about me.

LAWMAKER: I am repeating what. I confronted the Permanent Secretary and the DFA. Last week Thursday, I’m still alive talking, you did say what they approved to you. I said Mr. Perm Sec what happened? You are not in the know. I said look, I was once twice, Commissioner in my state, and the accounting officer is the permanent secretary, please, you people should work with the Permanent Secretary. From the revelations coming out, it is one man show you people are doing.

MINISTER: She just made an allegation against me and you people said I should keep quiet? No fairness here. It’s a trap. It’s a trap, but I’m not going to jump into it. I’m not going to jump into the trap. I’ve stolen nothing. I have never tampered with anything, that’s why I’m not afraid of anybody.

LAWMAKER: Please Honourable minister, we are working with records.

MINISTER: On the issue of the contracts, even the ones given while I was there, they have not been paid. So there is no partiality here. Except that we are underfunded. We don’t have money. They have not been paid. That’s why we moved the ongoing project to this year’s budget so that they will be able to pay them.


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