By Chimezie Godfrey
The Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere has called for improved funding of the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to enable it to cover many more Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in subsequent audits.
Onyekpere made the call at the occasion of the “Presentation of the Audit Assessment Index” in collaboration with Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, on Thursday in Abuja.
He pointed out that the index uses the report of the Auditor-General for the years 2014 to 2017 to access the performance of 16 key Ministries, Departments and Agencies and four revenue-generating agencies that are supposed to remit monies into the Federation account.
“We use the issues of allowing the auditor to have full access to documents and records, we looked at the issue of extra-budgetary expenditure, we looked at the issues around procurement reforms, we also looked at the issue about remitting money that is due to the treasury in terms of IGR that should be remitted, as well as deductions of taxes and remitting them to the appropriate accounts.
“We also looked around the issue of EPayment policy and organization that are encouraging traveling without due process or even medical tourism.
“After reviewing all of them we now looked at the quantum of resources that is involved by the MDA’s in terms of what actually came out in Monintery values over the 4 years the first years.
“About 5 of the 16 MDAs cross the 75% score which is the pass mark, and the others did not get across that pass mark.
“We need the new audit law which has been passed severally by the National Assembly but did not get presidential assent.
“We need improved funding of the office of the Auditor-General, which allow the auditor General to get more funds to cover many more cover more MDAs when they are auditing.
“We need the Executive to also begin to implement audit recommendations because if the Auditor General makes a recommendation which is affirmed by the office of the public account committee of the legislature, it still comes back as a report to the President who should now activate either the sanctions or compliance mechanisms, so, that part on the duty of the President to implement those reforms or recommendations, need to be taken seriously by the President,” Onyekpere said.
The high point of the event was the recognition of the Ministry of Science and Technology as the best performing ministry for the audit report, which was followed by the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Labour and Employment, and Ministry of Women Affairs.
The Head Directorate of Legal Investigation and Enforcement, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Charles Abana noted that the whole essence of the event is to encourage MDA’s that are doing well to continue to do so while urging others to take lead from them.
Albana stressed that the time has come to remind the heads MDAs that it is no longer business as usual.
“That is why the amendment to the fiscal responsibility act 2007 that we propose in the National assembly right now, there is an aspect that says at the end of the year if we go through the audited financial report of cooperation listed in the act if we find that some agencies are doing very well those agencies will be rewarded.
“While those who are consistently not doing well will find themselves open to all manner of forensic investigation and will even lead to the removal of their board.
“Nigerians are looking up to them to do the right thing. People are looking up to them to do the right thing see how they have managed public funds then what is the result of it that is one of the things that this report highlights for the benefit of Nigerians,” he said.
Abana disclosed that there are already regulations existing for certain infractions when it comes to auditing and lack of adherence to financial regulations and other extant rules in terms of public financial management.
“The regulations are there but are they being enforced, who who is there to implement these sanctions?
“That why we hear shouting of uncounted public funds from 2014 to 2017, there are trillions of naira that have been unaccounted for either by budgeting or spending.
“I think the government will have to step up and make examples of some MDA’s.
“The office of the Auditor-General should be given the power to carry out sanctions. present,” Abana stressed.
Centre for Social Justice (CJS) is a knowledge institution, a non-governmental and non-partisan organization that is focused on deepening economic, social and political change in Nigeria.