The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation says it has launched a strategic partnership with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to conduct in-depth examinations of revenue generating agencies, starting with the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Nigeria Customs Service.
This was contained in the 2018 audit report transmitted to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts.
While frowning at the level of impunity being perpetuated by heads of various public institutions on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and extant financial regulations, the oAuGF observed: “The financial statements of Government Statutory Corporations, Companies, Commissions, etc., otherwise called Parastatals are not audited by my office, in line with Section 85(3a) of the 1999 Constitution.
“However, in accordance with Section 85(3b) of the Constitution, their Annual Accounts and Audit reports thereon shall be submitted to me for vetting and my comments. Several of the Government Corporations, Companies and Commissions have not submitted their audited accounts to me as at the time of this report despite the provision of the Financial Regulation 3210 (v) which enjoins the Chief Executive Officers of these Bodies to submit both the audited accounts and management reports to me not later than 31st May, of the following year of the accounts.”
According to the 2018 audit report, some of the cross-cutting findings made by the oAuGF showed: “Several major weaknesses and lapses in the management of public funds and resources were identified across several MDAs during the annual audit. In total, a sum of N105,760,058,919.43 worth of infractions were observed and the recommendations in this report should yield a substantial saving to the Federal purse if followed up through resolutions by the National Assembly.
“A separate section is therefore included in this annual report to highlight the key crosscutting issues. Our findings range from irregular expenditure, under and non-remittance of revenue generated by MDAs, items of stores not taken on charge and high magnitude of unretired advances.
“Also still recurring, was the continuing failures in the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Overall, our findings are indicative of significant weaknesses in expenditure control, and financial reporting. Efforts by the Federal Government to improve the annual budgeting process have resulted in the restoration of the budget cycle to January – December, effective from the 2020 budget year.
“This will no doubt lead to significant improvement and success in the nation’s budgeting and budget execution processes. However, as in earlier years, 2018 witnessed low levels of budgetary releases across government. This had a direct impact on the ability of the MDAs to perform their functions and rendered the annual budget execution process ineffective to a large extent, especially regarding capital expenditure.”
While giving update on the responses to audit queries, the OAuGF said: “We notice that there was no improvement in the level of responses to audit observations by Accounting Officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The 9th Assembly presents a fresh opportunity for the Public Accounts Committees to achieve a positive impact in this regard by ensuring that sanctions applicable to non-responsive behaviour by Accounting Officers and their management are enforced. We also note the efforts of the Public Accounts Committees of the 9th Assembly as reflected in the quantum of Agencies invited to appear before the Committees for accountability purposes.
“Inadequate funding for audit – Severe funding constraints continue to be a major impediment to achieving the statutory and constitutional mandates of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF), especially as the office is not able to self-fund a significant amount of fieldwork. The Office also does not have adequate accommodation for its staff, thereby resorting to the Resident Auditor approach, where audit staff are based at auditees’ offices.
“This practice has long been stopped by most Supreme Audit Institutions decades ago, but in the absence of suitable accommodation and direct funding for audit fieldwork, the OAuGF is yet to discontinue this arrangement. As was the case in previous years, the National Budget, the mandate of the Office and public expectations have been increasing. However, the annual budget of the Office remains grossly inadequate especially in the context of fulfilling its constitutional mandate.”