Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate Wednesday advised the executive arm of government to focus more in stopping corruption rather than fighting it.
This, it said, was necessary in order to achieve the desired goal of blocking fund leakages and boosting the country’s economy.
The upper legislative chamber specifically urged the federal government to adequately fund the Office of Auditor General of the Federation, OAuGF, if it is truly serious in curbing corruption in the country.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo South) gave the advice when the Auditor General of the Federation, AuGF, Mr. Anthony Ayine, appeared before the committee to defend the 2019 budget of the OAuGF.
Urhoghide maintained that it would be difficult for the government to achieve any meaningful results in its fight against corruption when the AuGF, which should prevent the act of indiscipline is underfunded while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has adequate funds for its activities.
“I wonder that the EFCC has a whooping N22billion in 2019 budget while the Auditor General’s Office has just N3billion. I don’t think they (Executive) believe in this office, if not they will not be underfunding it every year.
“If this administration really want to achieve much in transparency and probity of public funds, it is better to invest in stopping corruption instead of fighting it,” the Senator said.
He, however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari not to further delay signing into law the Federal Audit Bill before him to give strong backing to the fight against corruption in the country, saying this would guarantee and safeguard operational independence of the OAuGF.
Speaking, the AuGF, Ayine said much was achieved by his office in 2018 budget performance, especially in the areas of training and re-training of staff, and provision of working tools for them as parts of ongoing reforms by the management.
He also hinted of plan to recruit 969 new workers this year to further improve the performances of the office, saying some old staff would retire and needed to be replaced so as not to create vacuum.
On the inadequate funding of the OAuGF, Ayine said “it has been a recurring problem that has led to the underperformance of the Office”.