Senate Committee Castigates Auditor-General over Shoddy Annual Reports

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday reprimanded the outgoing Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Mr. Samuel Ukura, over what it described as his flagrant negligence of duty on the audited annual reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) between 2009 and 2014.

Consequently, the committee ordered the AuGF to henceforth, issue clearance certificates to government agencies whose annual audited reports have been certified by his office.

At a meeting with government agencies called by the committee on annual reports of their audited accounts from 2009 to 2014, some agencies countered the earlier reports by the AuGF which had indicted them with evidences of the receipt of their annual reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. The reports which had earlier been forwarded to the Senate by the AuGF’s Office covered a period between 2009 and 2014.

In its reaction, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rejected the AuGF’s report that it didn’t make available its audited reports in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 pointing out that the reports had long been submitted to the Office of the AuGF in response to the queries he issued against it.

The apex bank which was represented by the CBN Deputy Governor (Operations), Mr. Bayo Adelabu, said in accordance with Section 65 (3d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and CBN Act 2007, it had submitted its annual reports up to date.

According to him, the auditor-general’s claim that CBN did not submit to it the annual reports of CBN from 2010 to 2014 was sheer falsehood as he insisted that it had submitted its reports up to 2014 based on queries issued by the AuGF’s Office.

But the representative of the AuGF, Isaac Dada, couldn’t provide a convincing defence for the report, a situation which irritated the committee, prompting it to issue an order that no agency head should henceforth send a representative to its meetings.

According to the committee, any agency head who is not personally present in its meetings should not send a representative as it threatened that the committee would deem whatever information available to it about such agency to be true.

Besides CBN, other agencies such as the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) , Nigeria Pension Commission (PENCOM) also objected to claims made by the AuGF that they did not submit their annual reports between 2009 and 2014.

Dada however, argued that reports forwarded to the Senate by AuGF’s Office on annual reports of the various government agencies were predicated on available documents to it and its findings.
But dissatisfied with the claim, the committee chairman, Senator Andy Uba, accused him of giving the committee unsubstantiated claim.

“Your boss who is found of declaring on the television or radio that his office had completed audited work on annual reports of the MDAs and always alleging that it is the National Assembly that is not working on such reports, is not here today for the needed harmonisation of these conflicting reports and even you that are here, are not competent going by your responses so far,” he said.
Another member of the committee, Senator Akpan Bassey, accused the AuGF of deliberately staying away from the meeting because he knew that he had presented shoddy reports to the Senate on annual reports of the agencies.

“Going by what has unfolded itself here today, as far as this committee is concerned, the AuGF deliberately ran away and not because of any other important engagement elsewhere,” Uba alleged.
Also yesterday, Director General of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP), Mr. Emeka Ezeh, told the Senate Committee on Public Procurement that no fewer than 19,000 federal projects had been abandoned across the country.

He said the development was caused by non-payment for interim certificates for work done and fear of hostage-taking and kidnappings in some parts of the country.
Ezeh made the disclosure at the public hearing organised by the committee on procurement on a bill to amend the Public Procurement Act 2007.

At the hearing, the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) called for the synchronisation of project funding in a project cycle with a view to preventing continuos cases of abandoned projects and ensuring continuity of projects after a change of government.

In her submission, National President of the institute, Mrs. Mercy T. Iyortyer, who presented the institute’s proposed amendments to the bill, explained that the proposed synchronisation was achievable if medium term approach would be deployed to project planning and budgeting.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday passed a bill seeking to revive moribund banks and businesses in the country.

Tagged a Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act(Repeal and Reenactment) Bill, 2016, the bill was passed following the presentation of the report by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions by its Chairman, Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim.
At a press briefing after the passage, Ibrahim said the Insolvency Act would help “to rescue insolvent banks and help to re-establish businesses.”

He explained that the Act would discourage dishonesty and sharp practices in the course of doing business in Nigeria. “If businesses that are insolvent can still be revived through this law, there will be no need for sharp practices by banks and businesses,” he said.