The Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation has asked the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to explain why his ministry spent N19m on international travel during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A member of the panel, Ezennwa Onyewuchi, told him: “Let me take you on this 2020 overhead. You have here, on local travels and transport appropriated is N30m, you expended N23m on local transport, you received N96m as appropriated as released and you expended N90m. “On international travels and transport, you had N43m and you expended N19m. So, I’m wondering, this period of lockdown when nobody was able to go to any country during the 2020 appropriation, how you were able to embark on international travels and you expended N19m.” Responding, the minister said N19m was spent on foreign trips before the COVID-19 lockdown. “You’d notice that N43m was budgeted, but less than 40% was spent precisely because of the COVID-19 and before then remember that we had travelled to attend several international summits starting UNWTO conference, UNESCO in Spain and in the UK. We also did advocacy in the UK at the same time. These were all before the lockdown. “I think our last trip was actually in Addis Ababa when we accompanied the president to the AU summit and that was about March 2020 before the lockdown. “The lockdown came at the end of March. So, whatever we spent here was before the lockdown,” he said.