Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday said it would probe the audit report from the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation which revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other government agencies failed to remit N3.3 trillion to the Federation Account in 2014.
The report, which was submitted Monday by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura, to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, also indicted the management of the National Assembly and Nigeria’s foreign mission in the United States of America.
Reacting to the report tuesday, the Senate spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the Senate Committee on Public Accounts would investigate the allegations and ensure that any indicted official is duly sanctioned.
However, he disagreed with the notion that the report had indicted the government agencies or their officials, pointing out that the audit report had only raised queries that could not be deemed an indictment yet until they are proven after the probe.
He said: “The Eighth Senate has chosen to be different in line with what we have stated severally since we came on board. For that reason, we came up with our legislative agenda to make us different from the past because we are in the season and period of change and we want to seriously key into that.
“Along that line, you could see the courage that we have shown to make a difference from what obtained in the past and on this note, we have passed the reports of some committees like the one on the TSA (Treasury Single Account), which is a classic example.
“Through that exercise, we were able to save the country N7 billion. There are similar works that have been done. We want to say that since we have chosen to be different, we urge Nigerians to wait and see what we will make out of the investigation.
“Without holding fort for the past assemblies, I want to say that it is not as if they had not been doing anything about the past audit reports. But perhaps they did take their action to the level that would have made a meaningful impact. If that is what the auditor-general means, I agree with him.
“The auditor-general has raised some queries. It is not an indictment. So when he raises his queries, the essence is that the Public Accounts Committee will invite those parties involved in the query and through the instruments of their own work, investigate all the issues by seeking clarification and at the end of the day, where there were infractions or infringements on certain procedures, they would mete out appropriate sanctions as stipulated by the extant rules and regulations to those responsible.
“When there is a process and someone has done one part, until we conclusively finish that process, it will be unfair to accuse anyone of wrongdoing. These are administrative procedures and the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has made it clear that we would take oversight functions far more seriously than what it used to be in the past.
“If oversight functions are carried out properly, some of these queries that we talk about will begin to reduce because the essence is to see infractions before they happen.
“We as lawmakers will stop them before another institution discovers the anomalies and brings them to our notice. These are the powers of the National Assembly through oversight functions.
“We are committed to ensuring that a thorough job is done this time. We have demonstrated our capacity to match our words with actions. Wait and see, it’s a promise and we have four years to prove that we mean business”.