By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives has commenced the process of securing financial autonomy for the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF), an office charged with the responsibility of scrutinising the accounts of all federal public institutions in the country.
The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Solomon Adeola (ACN/Lagos), disclosed this at the weekend in a chat with journalists.
Adeola said a bill will soon be presented on the issue to ensure that the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation was well equipped to monitor financial transactions in all the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Adeola expressed dissatisfaction at the present status of the OAuGF and promised that the proposed bill will ensure that full autonomy was granted to the office to make it more functional and result oriented.
This proposed bill, he said, will ensure full autonomy for the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation and save it from the financial strangulation of the past years.
Adeola alleged that over the years, the OAuGF had been starved of funds to carry out its functions, thus stalling the full audit of the accounts of public institutions and paving way for reckless expenditure and corruption among public servants.
“Can you imagine that in the 2013 Appropriation Bill, the Budget Office allocated less than a billion naira for the office (OAuGF) to oversee a N4.9trillion budget? This was one of the reasons we jacked it (budget) up.
“We will also ensure that all auditors are located in one complex rather than the present situation where auditors are attached to MDAs making them to be compromised and submit doctored reports, “Adeola said.
The Public Accounts Committee had last year proposed an amendment to the Constitution seeking to place the OAuGF as one of the institutions that should receive funding on the basis of first line charge on the Federation Account.
The committee also rejected the allocation of N892.5 million to the Auditor General’s Office in the current years budget on the premise that it was a poor budgetary allocation that would render the operations of the office ineffective.
The Auditor General for the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura, had at a budget defence session disclosed that his office requested for an allocation of N5.2 billion but only got N892.5 million from the Budget Office of the Federation.
Ukura told the lawmakers that the accounts of several MDAs could not be audited in 2012 because of paucity of funds.
Investigations have shown that due to lack of funds, the OAuGF audited the accounts of 44 MDAs only, leaving out 97 Foreign Missions during the last fiscal year.