The Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, Barr. Eze Onyekpere says the Federal Government can comfortably fund deficits in the 2020 National Budget by leveraging on Auditor General’s report from 2014 to 2017 which indicted hundreds of government Ministries, Agencies and Departments for various financial infractions.
Onyekpere made the statement Wednesday during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
CSJ had in recently published Auditor General’s report revealed that the nation lost a whooping N5.785 trillion on unauthorized deductions from Federation Account from 2014 to 2017 by the trio of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The Debt Management Office (DMO) had told the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts in June that deficit financing of the revised N10 .509 trillion 2020 budget would rise from N2.18 trillion to N4.56trillion.
Onyekpere noted if these funds are recovered from defaulting MDAs and public officials, the budget deficits can be adequately taken care of, stressing that the major challenge of implementing recommendations from the Auditor General report is lack of political will by the government.
His words: “The challenge is that the political will to get violators of the financial regulations, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Public procurement Act and even clear bridges of the constitution are violated on a regular basis but nobody ever gets punished.”
He added that punishing agencies like NNPC which topped the list of indicted government agencies is difficult, given that it is directly under the control of President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Minister for Petroleum.
Onyekpere called for inter-agency collaboration as well as collaboration between civil society organisations and the media to expose corrupt agencies and public officials.
When asked what citizens must do to curb flagrant perpetration of corruption in MDAs, He had this to say: “there is so much impunity in Nigeria, we need to roll back the stone, Nigerians must vote out every politician involved in mismanagement of public funds.
“Citizens must know that it is their right to peacefully protest against tyranny and against those who steal our commonwealth.”
A co-convener of the program, Mr Okhiria Agbonsuremi also joined the call for citizens to hold political leaders and public officials accountable in the wake of prevalent corruption in the country.