The House of Representatives has expressed grave concern over the inability of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) to carry out the audit of 801 federal agencies and parastatals as well as foreign missions across the world since 2017. Nigeria currently has 110 foreign missions being funded through annual budgetary provisions.
The lawmakers expressed the concern during the investigative hearing held at the instance of the House Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Hon ‘Wole Oke It resolved to summon the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed; Director-General of Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris; Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan; and chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission Dr Tukur Ingawa.
The lawmakers also expressed displeasure over non-provision of required funds for the recruitment of 611 new staff needed to bridge the manpower shortfall in the office of the Auditor General of the Federation despite obtaining a waiver from the Head of Service of the Federation since 2017.
Oke alleged: “a very critical professional body is being under-funded. Even in fund allocation for the budget, the Director-General of the budget office has intentionally deliberately underfunded the office of the Auditor-General so that he won’t be able to discharge its duties and uncover all the illegal criminal activities and looting going on in the country.
“On what basis would you be funding agencies that have no value to the economy at the detriment of the Auditor General office?
“From the presentation of the Auditor General is understaffed, he needs over 600 workers. It will interest you that the entire Zamfara State has just on staff; one staff in Zamfara State, how do we run a country like this?
“Even in the 2020 budget, the Auditor General is struggling, its funds are yet to be released to him 100%. There are critical activities of the office of the Auditor General aside financial auditing, we have programmes’ auditing, we have project auditing, value for money, but the auditor General is unable to do all these, it’s underfunded.
“So we’ve resolved to invite the Minister of Finance, the Director of Budget Office, the Accountant General of the Federation, Head of Service and Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission to cause appearance before this Committee.
“One, to find out why the Director of Budget has refused to fund the Auditor General’s office in the area of Personnel cost. They have no functional vehicles, personnel of other agencies that you expect the Auditor General to go and audit, earn better than staff of Auditor General’s office.
“And this is a very critical office that we need to wage war against corruption in the land. We would continue to escalate this matter until it gets to the hearing of Mr. President, that Auditor General’s office is grossly underfunded.
“There’s no government that has put in place programmes for youth empowerment, training and development but all the funds allocated for these programmes, can the Auditor General trace and track them without personnel, without equipment, so as to ensure value for money?
“Personnel of agencies that you asked Auditor General to go and audit earn better than the personnel of Auditor General, to the extent that Nigerian Youths and younger ones are not even interested in going to work with the Auditor General, they prefer to go to NCC, they prefer to go to paramilitary agencies, CBN, FIRS, just because working with Auditor General’s office you cannot earn a living wage.”
The Committee mandated the Accountant General of the Federation to release with immediate effect all the funds required for the exercise before the end of 2020 fiscal year