Since 1999, at least 14 audit reports sent to the Public Accounts Committees (PAC) of both chambers of the National Assembly by the Office of Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF), have been gathering dust without being presented to the plenary for consideration and action.
The Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a two-day retreat between OAuGF and Public Accounts Committees (PACs) of the Senate and House of Reprsentatives, in partnership with the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The audit reports exposed fraudulent practices in federal ministries, department and agencies.
Mr. Ukura stressed that the reports were usually diligently produced by the office only for them to be abandoned by the legislature, whose duty it is to pass the audit reports for implementation.
Failure of the committees to submit the reports before the plenary sessions of both chambers of the National Assembly, has prevented the reports from being handed over to the executive arm of government for implementation, thus robbing Nigerians of the economic gains that would have occurred if the reports were implemented.
The AGF insisted that the anti-corruption campaign of the President Muhammadu Buhari government would succeed only if the National Assembly treats with passion, audit reports.
“Since 1999, we have submitted 14 annual reports to the Public Accounts Committees. Yes! They have considered them at the committee level but those reports haven’t been passed to the plenary session let alone passing them to the executive for implementation”, the Auditor General lamented.
The law requires that all audit reports from the Auditor General is sent to the National Assembly through the Public Accounts Committees, which will in turn consider the reports, and present same at the plenary.
The plenary would conclude work on the reports and forward to Mr. President for implementation but that hasn’t been the case in the last 16 years, since the country returned to democratic system of governance.
However, Mr. Ukura said, the retreat hopes to achieve that synergy between the PACs and the OAuGF so the process could run to its logical conclusion.
“From this retreat, we want to forge a cordial working relationship with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation so that all the audit reports we send to PACs will be processed and passed to the executive for implementation after it has been considered at the plenary sessions”, he said.
Mr. Ukura also called for the passage of the audit Bill before the National Assembly so the OAuGF will have greater autonomy to function.
According to him, the law currently in use is obsolete and does not capture current realities.
“The Audit Bill when passed will give the Auditor General independence – both financial and administrative – and other rights,” he said, adding that it has more sanctions to bite defaulters.
“The Law we are using now is since 1958 when the source of revenue was largely agriculture. But the economy is much more robust now hence the need for more encompassing law”, he said.
Speaking at the function, Hon. Chinda Kingsley, the Public Accounts Committee Chairman of the House of Representatives, assured that under his own leadership, the audit reports must be presented at plenary.
“Some of the reports have been considered but no report has been laid before the House by the committee. None ever, but I am not in a position to say why. The assurance I have given is that I shall lay reports before the House and part of our target is that we will be making quarterly report before the 8th Assembly winds up”, he assured.