By Tordue Salem – Abuja
The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives has commenced an investigation of the Auditor General’s office, over the absence of audit reports on over 400 federal agencies, since 2018.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep Wole Oke, in an exclusive interview with Vanguard last week, said the House, would look into the reasons for the breach by the audit office.
“They (the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation), have not submitted for 2019, and have not done 2018. We are worried that 2018 and even 2019, are not in yet. We will look into it; it’s a revelation and we will find out,” Oke, assured.
The Committee will also look at allegations, that the Auditor General, Anthony Ayine, has “Unaccounted 2018 Intervention Funds, worth N900million, Unaccounted World Bank grants to the tune of $750million.”
The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee, in February, commenced an investigative hearing into non-remittance of revenues by agencies; the probe lasted for over a month, leading to mind-boggling revelations.
Though the House is yet to submit its report before the House in plenary, Vanguard learnt that a minor shake-up at the committee level in March and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may be reasons for the delay of the Committee’s work on agencies under the purview of the Auditor-General’s office.
Besides, reliable sources from the Audit House, also told Vanguard at the weekend that the Audit Bill, 2019, was rejected by the Presidency, because of a controversial clause, that seeks to extend the retirement age of the Auditor-General from 60 to 65, in breach of Civil Service Rules and the 1999 Constitution.
The source said the clause played a spoiler for the proposed law, as “As there is no justification for the tenure elongation of the Auditor General for the Federation, or any other similar government agencies in that category. The process was carried out, without due consultation with relevant stakeholders.”
The Senate, with the leadership Sen. Bukola Saraki, had at the time, criticised the President for declining assent to the Bill. The 8th Senate had insisted that an Audit Act, would have dealt with issues of leakages in the revenue of the government.
The Bill proposes to tighten the noose on non-remitting agencies and block loopholes and leakages in revenue generation.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in May 2019, rejected the Federal Audit Bill, 2019, for its alleged inconsistencies with the Constitution and conflict with Civil Service laws. Though details of why the President didn’t sign the Bill, are yet to emerge.