Ignoring the rot in MDAs and focusing the corruption war on high-profile corrupt political actors alone will not achieve the desired results in tackling corruption.
The damning report by the Auditor-General of the Federation on the accounts of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the year 2016, has underscored the need to strengthen the anti-corruption war. In the report, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine, observed that “deficiencies were noted in the processes for consolidating the balances of MDAs into one economic entity…”
The report also excoriated the MDAs for providing limited information in line with General Acceptable Accounting Principles (GAAP), a key requirement for financial transparency and accountability. Essentially, the main duty of the Auditor-General is to protect public interest by performing a detailed and objective examination of public accounts and also scrutinise MDAs’ expenditures. Consequently, in the report, many of the MDAs were found to have perpetrated astonishing corrupt practices and under-remittance of revenue to the Federation Account.
For instance, the report revealed that the Directorate of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in Abuja, awarded contracts worth N1.2billion for the supply of skill acquisition materials to its various state offices across the country. However, it noted that while the contractors were fully paid, the items purportedly supplied were not physically sighted or received by the staff of the agency, even when Certificates of job completion were issued by other agents, instead of the NDE.
A similar malfeasance was uncovered in the Ecological Fund, set up by the federal government to tackle ecological problems in any part of the country. According to the report, the fund, which received 2 per cent deduction from the Federation Account in 2016, became a cesspool of corruption. It was discovered that even the Federal Government made various withdrawals from the fund under the guise of “borrowing” purposes, without clearly stated repayment plans.
On the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the report noted that the corporation did not remit N4.07 trillion to the Federation Account. This was corroborated by the Federal Allocation Account Committee (FAAC) records. Mismanagement of funds involving cash advances of over N28 million to staff in 2016 was uncovered in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is currently under investigation for alleged corruption. Altogether, the Auditor-General’s report is a sad revelation of systemic corruption in the MDAs, the engine room of government policymaking process. We decry the corruption in the MDAs and urge the government to map out measures to check the malfeasance. The corruption in the MDAs is a sign that the government’s fight against corruption is not working as expected. The government should apprehend those behind the rot and prosecute them.
Last year, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) indicted the MDAs for corruption. It said, in its 2017 report, that the MDAs defrauded the country of over N1trillion in the last seven years. Based on the FRC report, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, promised to monitor their operations. The minister’s assurance also came against the backdrop of another startling discovery of tax revenue shortfall by MDAs’ contractors between 2012 and 2017.
In 2016, the Federal Government sought the prosecution of 33 of its agencies over non-remittance of N450 billion reportedly generated between 2010 and 2015. A recovery committee led by the Accountant General of the Federation was set up and part of the money recovered was remitted to the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Overall, the Auditor General’s report should be seen as a wake-up call on the government to address public sector corruption which is undermining its anti-graft war. Ignoring the rot in MDAs and focusing the corruption war on high-profile corrupt political actors alone will not achieve the desired results in tackling corruption. The war against corruption must be waged on all fronts for its aims to be achieved.