The Senate, at its plenary session of Wednesday, 23 June 2021, received the report of its Committee on Public Accounts on the “Annual report of the Auditor-General for the Federation on the accounts of the Federation for the year ended 31st December 2015”.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP: Edo), in his submission stated that the report was the outcome document following from the consideration of Part II of the Auditor-General’s report on the Accounts of the Federation which was submitted to the National Assembly through a letter dated 31st May 2017, and it contains queries on Federation Accounts and Financial Statements.
According to Sen. Urhoghide, the Committee held public hearings with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) including the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
In the report, Sen. Urhoghide noted that the public hearing which commenced on Thursday, 11 February to Thursday, 3 June 2020, also had in attendance, the Accounting Officers of respective MDAs who were required to give evidences on financial transactions and expenditures, and reports on their internal financial control systems and procedures for managing public funds.
Speaking on the findings and observations from the hearing, Sen. Urhoghide informed lawmakers that the Committee noticed the consistent contravention of relevant laws by the OAGF including delayed submission of annual financial statement, and withdrawals of funds from Special Fund Accounts for purposes other than which the monies were appropriated for, without the approval of the National Assembly.
Other infractions he mentioned were the absence of collaboration and co-operation between the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) and the OAGF, delay in submission of financial reports, and unlawful financial practices by some key revenue generating agencies such as:
- Irregularities in investment and other cash assets in the sum of N1,127,180,992,109.07
- Non-placement of Share Certificates of quoted companies with the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS)
- Irregular credit balances of Imprest with MDAs
- Unretired advances in the sum of N2,296,567,084.37
- Inconsistent Exchange loss Difference on External Loans
- Failure to deduct withholding tax during the payment of fees for Destination Inspection Services.
- Non-certification of direct deductions from Federation Account to off-set debts owed by States and the FCT by the OAuGF.
In conclusion, Sen. Urhoghide urged the Senate to ensure passage of the Federal Audit Service Bill into law in order to strengthen and streamline audit processes, and to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public funds.
Following from his submissions, the Senate accordingly resolved to further examine the various issues identified in the report (Part II) and commence consideration on another legislative date after background studies by lawmakers have been concluded.