Over N9bn Not Accounted For On 32 Projects Worth Over
N17bn In 2017
… Using 1956 Audit Act to Evaluate 2020 Budget is Unreasonable
By: Abayomi Adeshida
The Federal Government has been urged to pay particular attention to the reformation of the audit process in the country to plug wastage of the dwindling nation’s income and guarantee budgetary performance each budget cycle.
Expressing its dedication and commitment to collaborating with all relevant institutions of government to guarantee improved service delivery to Nigerians, a non-government agency, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, PLSI also told journalists at a press conference in Abuja that the first step towards reforming the audit sector was the amendment of the instruments set up the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation to be termed-based.
Addressing journalists during the event, Executive Director, PLSI, Olusegun Elemo observed that, “very soon, the Auditor General of the Federation would clock the mandatory retirement age of sixty and he would be required to quit the office.
“If a man who is fifty-eight years old is appointed to the office as the Auditor General of the Federation, there is very little he can do within the period of two years that he has to bow out of the office.”
“We need to empower the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation to play a more effective role in ensuring that public funds begin to work for citizens and particularly young people.
“Nigerians require urgent reforms in different sectors of our national life and one of such is Audit Reform.
“Similarly, as the Auditor-General for the Federation clocks the retirement age prescribed by law by end of October 2020, it is imperative to state that such crucial office should be tenure-based as best practice requires rather one limited by age.
“It is equally important that we implement the succession plan as provided for in section 86 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“There must also be every effort to ensure that the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation is not subject to the direction or control of any authority or person as enshrined in section 85(6) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“We, therefore, use this medium to call on the Executive arm to work harmoniously with the National Assembly in accelerating the passage and assent to a modern audit law for Nigeria,”.
In his explanation on why the reform of the Audit sector was necessary at this time, Elemo lamented on how the current system of auditing in the country had caused the nation an increasing loss of budgeted funds in the past.
He revealed an increase of about N6.8bn in funds budgeted but unaccounted for between the figures of the 2016 and 2017 Audited Reports of the Federal Government.
According to Elemo, “while 32 projects worth N17bn meant for implementation in 17 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory were awarded to various contractors, about N9.7bn is not accounted for.
“The unaccounted funds, when compared to similar publication on the 2016 Audit Report of the Federation, showed an increase of N6.8bn (70%), an indication that accountability in the utilization of public funds in Nigeria is getting worse.
“Nigeria must commit to ensuring that public funds are not just spent but also properly accounted for.
“You are aware that President Buhari laid before the National Assembly last Thursday the 2021 budget estimate of more than N13tn and nobody is asking the BIG question of how do we ensure that this huge fund is effectively and economically utilized?
“What justification do we have to continue to spend without adequate audit mechanism? How do we use a 1956 Audit Act to evaluate a 2020 budget?
“It is completely unreasonable and that is where the problem is. That is the foundation of all our problems today.
“What young people are protesting about today is not just the failure of the policing system or SARS but the failure of an entire democratic culture that continues to keep young people under.
“There are no jobs, no quality education or healthcare ‘no efficient transportation system and all these and many other challenges are due to the lack of accountability in the utilization of public resources.
“We will like to restate our commitment and dedication in working very closely with all relevant institutions and agencies of government particularly the National Assembly Public Accounts Committees and Anti-Corruption Agencies to ensure that all public funds highlighted in our Value for Money Handbook – Issue 2 are adequately accounted for to improve service delivery to citizens.