Sunday, 4th June 2023

NACA refutes reports on alleged misappropriation of grants from Global Fund

By Chukwuma Muanya
20 May 2021   |   4:11 am
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has refuted reports on alleged misappropriation of grants from the Global Funds for AIDS, TB and Malaria.

NACA DG, Dr. Aliyu

Agency attributes controversy over non-release of audit report documents to miscommunication
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has refuted reports on alleged misappropriation of grants from the Global Funds for AIDS, TB and Malaria.

It was widely reported on Saturday May 15, 2021 that the Senate has queried NACA over its failure to release records of 2015 global funding of the agency for proper auditing.

The query was based on the 2016 Report of the Auditor General of the Federation submitted to the Senate Committee on Public Accounts headed by Senator Mathew Urhoghide.

But the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, in a chat with journalists debunked the news that the agency was queried over grants from Global Fund, stressing that “there is no fraud or misappropriation whatsoever in NACA as is being insinuated.”

Aliyu, who expressed shock over the ‘misleading’ report, attributed the controversy over non-release of audit report documents to miscommunication. The NACA boss, who reiterated that it is inconceivable for anybody to assume that donor funds can be mismanaged without repercussions, said the procedures for accessing and disbursing foreign grants are so stringent and rigorous that it is impossible to embezzle such funds. He stated that the amount of money that NACA receives and the agency’s audit report documents are public information that can be accessed from NACA and several independent bodies, including Global Fund and its appointed auditors.

The NACA DG further explained: “Let me state categorically that there is no misappropriation or fraud whatsoever that has been recorded in the period under question. Again, I insist that there is no fraud or misappropriation in the 2016 and 2017 money that came from Global Fund that I have seen or that has been reported by Global Fund or auditors of Global Fund. Global Fund has an auditing firm called Deloitte Akintola Williams and Co, which does an annual audit of Global Fund money that is given to any agent – whether it is in the government or private sector.

“Before any Global Fund money is spent, there is what is called fiduciary agent that reviews all payments even before they are made. And this agent has to sign before that money is paid. There is also post-payment audit called local fund agent (LFA), which reviews all payments to identify or detect whether there is misappropriation or fraud. If there is a fraud, they raise alarm and that alarm is raised to the Global Fund country agent – not to NACA. Finally, here in Nigeria, there is a country coordinating mechanism that oversees how disbursed money from Global Fund is spent by various agents.”

The DG said he was surprised that NACA is accused of hiding information, stressing that somebody was probably up to a mischief. “There is no fraud or any money misappropriated in NACA and there is no information that has been denied by NACA – either during my tenure or before I came. I became the DG in 2019 and there is nobody that has requested for information in NACA that has been denied, even if that information is about activities that happened before my tenure. I definitely suspect that somebody is out to give NACA a bad name in order to achieve certain things. We know that we have introduced reforms in NACA that everybody is happy with. Global Fund is happy with our reforms and that is why Global Fund is giving NACA more resources to manage. If Global Fund has any doubt about NACA capacity or transparency or accountability, they would not make money available to NACA,” he added.

The chairman of the Senate committee, at its sitting weekend, had also chided NACA for failing to include the financial activities of the Global Fund including amount received from the Fund and how it was utilised into the 2015 financial statements of the Agency.

But Aliyu insisted that the amount of money that has come to NACA or the amount of money that has been spent by NACA is public information. He added: “Whoever is interested in the information may not necessarily come to NACA; they can contact the country coordinating mechanism or the Global Fund country chief in Geneva to get the information.

“If they still have any doubt, they can also crosscheck from the fiduciary agent that is here in Nigeria or the local fund agent for Global Fund. They are also free to contact the overall Global Fund auditor (Deloitte Akintola Williams and Co) and they will get the information.

“Global Fund does not just give money without assessing or rating the beneficiary. Global Fund easily blacklists any organisation that has a track record of fraud or misappropriation. Once any organisation gets the Global Fund money, it means the Global Fund is confident that the beneficiary can manage the money and that it has what is it takes to provide feedback or report and work with them. Global Fund has a project-monitoring unit that carries out implementation of projects. What NACA does is to supervise.

“The main implementation is done by the project monitoring unit, which is hired and paid by the Global Fund. Yes, the money comes to NACA. But in actual sense, NACA works with Global Fund to implement whatever NACA implements with Global Fund money. NACA does not spend Global Fund alone; NACA works together with the Global Fund agents here in Nigeria and in Geneva. So there is no way there will be misappropriation or fraud. If it happens, alarm will be raised even before the funding circle ends.”