The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the utilisation of ecological funds released to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW) says the agency spent N81.2 billion to plant 21 million trees in 11 states.
The 11 states are Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
The investigation is from 2015 to date.
Isma’ila Dabo, the committee chair in Abuja, decried the persistent environmental challenges despite funds put into the programme. He said the funds put in by the federal government and international partners necessitated the investigation.
Mr Dabo said the committee would embark on, on-the-spot assessment tour to all the projects executed under this scheme to ascertain the claims. He said the committee was not out to scandalise any individual or organisation but only to ensure that public funds were utilised for the purpose 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,” added Mr Dabo.
The committee expressed displeasure over conflicting financial reports submitted by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the office of the accountant general of the federation to the committee.
Piqued by the inability of the agency to substantiate most of the tree planting projects carried out so far, the committee said 80 per cent of trees planted by the agency did not survive.
Meanwhile, the documents submitted by the accountant general of the federation, Oluwatoyin Madein showed that 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 Yusuf Bukar said the Great Green Wall Act was signed in 2015. He said it enabled the agency to implement the Nigerian component of the programme as an initiative of the African Union implemented in 11 African countries.
According to him, this addresses the problems of land degradation, desertification, drought, climate change and the livelihood of affected communities.
Mr Bukar 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.
Mr Bukar added that the funds accruing into the agency’s account included 15 per cent 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, multilateral organisations and donors, international and development agencies, and individuals.
Mr Bukar said the agency often received funds from donor agencies. However, he did not provide relevant documents on the amount received.