The serial violations discovered from the 2017 Auditor General’s report leaves much to worry about the state of our Nation. As concerned Nigerians continue to reflect on the reasons for Nigeria’s slow progress, one could easily pin this to the poor audit process that goes on in most of the government institutions. The lack of probity, accountability and transparency in the generation and utilization of public funds amongst government agencies is a breach of trust against the citizens of Nigeria. The Public account committee of the House of Reps just concluded its hearings on the levels of infractions committed by the MDAs through the Auditor General’s report. The hearing revealed that some MDAs have never opened their books for auditing since their inception and for those who did; there were levels of infractions discovered. The legislature placed most of these MDAs with questions to answer on status of inquiry. These posit that further investigation be conducted on the operation of the affected MDAs. From the analysis conducted by the Centre for Social Justice on the Auditor Generals 2017 report; harvest of violations ranging from irregular payments and expenditure were made across various MDAs.
Most payments were done without payment vouchers and supporting documents. There were un-approved international trips, extra budgetary payments and payments that violated the e-payment policy. SUVs and cars were taken away by high level retiring officers and could not be accounted for.
Other violations include the non compliance with the Public Procurement Act; this was revealed in 51 transactions across the MDAs. There were unremitted funds by some MDAs to the Federation account as well as illegal deductions on the account.
Coupled with these infractions is the worrisome fact that most of the accounting officers of the MDAs do not have the capacity to respond to audit queries while some do not care to respond to such queries. These infractions are age long practices that contradict the anti-corruption stand of the present administration which should not be allowed to continue. Lack of auditing in MDAs is a systemic collapse that has helped to enriched few individuals at the expense of Nigeria’s development. Despite the huge amount generated by government through taxation, crude oil, rents and other income accrued in the rendition of public services, most of the MDAs saddled to manage the resources have nothing to show for it. This has given rise to redundancy and lack of productivity in most MDAs whereas huge sums of money pass through them annually from the budget and from other sources mentioned above.
Beyond financial audit, much emphasis is not been paid to performance audits in line with the mandates of the MDAs. Performance audit is recommended to interrogate the value added by these agencies and if need be lead to the rationalisation of those MDAs who can no longer deliver their expected mandates. This is necessary to reduce the cost of governance and grand corruption.
The audit report is a wakeup to Mr. President to look within the MDAs in its anti-corruption fight. If the administration must achieve anything tangible, the MDAs must be rid of corruption and made to deliver according to their mandates in line with the expectation of the citizens. The audit report also presents the anti-corruption agencies with chains of cases to investigate and prosecute otherwise the findings in the report will be an exercise in futility.
Program Officer (Good Governance), Centre for Social Justice, Abuja.