Senate committee lists challenges of Nigeria’s public accounts system
Senate Committee on Public Accounts has said the bane of Nigeria’s public accounts system is that the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) is usually underfunded.
Its Vice Chairman, Ibrahim Hadejia, who spoke with National Assembly correspondents in Abuja, said to overcome challenges in the country’s public accounts system, corruption had to defeated through e-governance and the proposed Federal Audit Bill rather than spend so much on anti- corruption agencies haunt defaulters after corruption has been perpetrated.
He condemned the attempt to rate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) higher than the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF) in budgetary allocation.He said the anti-graft agencies receive as much as N150b to pursue corrupt persons who have stolen between N10b and N15b.
Also speaking on gaps in the country’s public accounts law that empowers government agencies to keep working with unaudited accounts for upward of 20 years, he insisted that the AGF needed to be adequately funded.He said, “When you have a budget of almost N12tr and you give the AGF N4b to oversight a N12tr budget, there is a problem from the percentage perspective.
“That is probably the lowest anywhere in the world. Therefore, we need to ensure that the AGF is empowered to ensure that he has personnel in most of the MDAs and to ensure that he has capacity to compel compliance with external relations. So, it will reduce EFCC and ICPC’s work.”He added that the anti-corruption agencies get funding to the tune of N150b to go after criminals who have stolen N10b and N15b, saying, “There is an attempt to address the gap through the Federal Audit Bill.
“As the law stands now, even constitutionally the AGF has serious limitations as to how far he can go in ensuring that the MDAs present their audited bills. In fact, part of the constitution actually ties his hands.”
“So, people are hiding under that lacuna not to do the needful and I think part of the challenges, apart from the legal challenges that his office has, is the fact that he is also not being funded. “You have a country that more or less focuses on what happens after a crime has been committed using the EFCC, ICPC and so on, rather than focus on prevention. If you make the financial and transaction atmosphere so tight that people cannot see loopholes where to steal money, then they will give up.”
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