Worried by massive corruption reports on several Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF), stakeholders have joined calls for enactment of a new audit law to strengthen accountability in the public sector.
The Project Manager at BudgIT, Tolutope Agunloye led the call during the anti-corruption radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Reacting to the breakdown of the 2019 Auditor-General’s report by the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), where heads of Federal Government MDAs and National Assembly members failed to account for over N377bn and about N2.5 billion of their expenditures, Agunloye lamented that corruption in the public sector continues to gain momentum due to lack of punishment against corrupt public servants or individuals in past audit reports.
He called on the current members of the National Assembly to prioritize the passing of the Federal Audit Bill into law with the limited time left in their tenure, noting that it will strengthen the Auditor-General to tackle corruption in the MDAs.
He added that the current federal audit law is archaic and cannot efficiently stand against the present-day corruption in the public service.
“We are running a 1956 audit law instituted even before independence, that’s what we are still running in 2022, so the corruption in 1956 might just have changed from Y to Z.
“So it simply means that the corruption might have changed, and it simply means you need to come up with laws that will tackle the new corruption,” Agunloye stressed.
He urged Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and citizens to continue the advocacy for the passage of the audit bill to empower the Auditor-General’s office.
He expressed the fears that the legislators may not prioritize the passage of the audit bill due to politicking ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Citizens should pick up the bill and go to their House of Reps members, at least they have offices in their constituencies, and you never can tell, the lawmakers may take up the issue and pass the audit bill into law to empower the Auditor General to do his job well, the audit bill right now is not being spoken of.
“Since President Muhammadu Buhari refused to assent to the Federal Audit Law passed by the Eight Assembly, I expected the current lawmakers to submit the bill again the moment they resumed office,” Agunloye stated.
Senior Investigative Journalist at the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Olugbenga Adanikin called on anti-graft agencies to act swiftly against numerous corruption reports stemming from past and present Auditor-General reports without waiting for public outcry or petitions.
Adanikin stressed that the annual audit report has become an embarrassing document because no action is taken against government agencies or individuals found wanting to mitigate future occurrences.
His words: “virtually every year you keep on seeing the huge amount of money, public funds were stolen, you see a civil servant travel outside the country, you see all manners of trips without evidence that they embarked on the trip, you won’t see boarding pass; you also have situations where government agencies spend above their allocations; you also see situations where heads of agencies spend beyond their threshold.”
Adanikin, however, revealed that ICIR will not relent in exposing corrupt practices in Nigeria and will continue to collaborate with other CSOs to achieve their set goals.
“At ICIR, we don’t want to know who you are, so far you are a corrupt government official, and then you are being paid through taxpayers’ money. We (ICIR) will put your name out there; we will put your photographs out there. We are not the judiciary, so once we put it out there, Civil Society organizations like PRIMORG, BudgIT can now come up and join the advocacy,” he said.
The Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, had lamented that his office was incapacitated from functioning effectively and efficiently in detecting mismanagement of public funds by the MDAs while submitting the 2019 Audit report to the Clerk of the National Assembly.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.