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Stakeholders seek zero budgetary allocation for defaulting MDAs

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Stakeholders in the anti-corruption crusade have urged the National Assembly to ensure zero budget allocation to Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) that fail to remit the revenue they generated to the federation account.

They also called for what they described as “state-to-state level” accountability process, which will ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the populace..

The stakeholders spoke at the presentation of a new report entitled: “Above the Law: How Ministries, Departments and Agencies are Getting Away With Corruption In Nigeria” by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in Lagos.

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Leading the discussions during the event which was held virtually, Adesina Ayodele Fagbenro-Byron, a former governance adviser to the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), noted that for 43 years of Nigeria’s existence, many ministries and departments have no audited reported.

According to him, the last audit report in June 2020 was presented because the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made it a necessity for the nation to access further loan.

Fagbenro-Byron lamented the inability to hold the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) accountable.

The Executive Director, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, Mr. Olusegun Elemo, identified the nation’s major challenge in the fiscal space as revenue leakage.

He blamed some of the accounting officers in the MDAs for allegedly undermining and breaching laws like the Financial Regulation 2302 (Payment Voucher for Stores) and Financial Regulation 2107 (Store Ledger and Usage).

According to him, the media have a critical role to play in sustaining the discussions on the autonomy of the auditor-general’s office. “The Media should bring the issues around the reports of the auditor general’s office to the front burner. The independence of the office must be addressed thoroughly.”

For a research analyst with BudgIT, a governance consultant, Mr. Olaniyi Olaleye, Nigerians should pay more attention to what the legislatures are doing with regard to budget allocation and amendment of archaic laws to ensure proper accountability in the polity.

In his remarks, the Deputy Director of SERAP, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, described the report as an assessment of the 2017 auditor-general’s report, which highlighted the recurring challenges bothering on transparency and accountability in the activities of MDAs in the country.

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He said the event was an opportunity for stakeholders to dissect the report as analysed by SERAP, with a view to ascertaining what the challenges are and how they can be addressed.

The Deputy Director of Mac Arthur Foundation, Mr. Dayo Olaide, who represented the director, described SERAP as a leading non-governmental organization in Nigeria that is speaking out against corruption. “SERAP is doing a great job of calling out MDAs that err in their roles and assignment.”

Olaide lamented that of all the reports that have come from the accountant general’s office from 2014 to 2017, revealing how MDAs have failed to remit or account for funds they have received, the executive arm of government has not taken action on any of them.

He cited the auditor general’s report of 2016 that showed that 323 MDAs did not submit their reports and that 69 of them never submitted audited reports.

Olaide said the auditor-general should make the full disclosure of his office’s report to the National Assembly, who should perform its oversight function and call the executive to take action.

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