Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Anthony Ayine, has accused the National Assembly of not treating the audited reports of all the federal government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) submitted to it in the last 20 years.
The AGF who spoke at the weekend while presenting a paper titled ‘The Role of National Assembly in Promoting Public Accountability’ at the ongoing orientation programme for 9th National Assembly members-elect, asked the federal legislators to take steps to clear mounting backlogs of audit reports submitted to them.
Ayine emphasised that to the best of his knowledge, there was no Auditor-General’s report that has been fully considered by the National Assembly since 1999. He explained that for audit report to be seen to have been fully considered after submission, a resolution of the National Assembly on the audit report must be transmitted to the executive arm for necessary action.
The AGF explained that for audit report to be submitted to the National Assembly, “we work with the financial report of the Accountant General of the Federation financial report.”
“The two Public Accounts Committees (PACs) (of the National Assembly) should draw up time table for clearing backlogs of audit reports,” he said.
The AGF insisted that the public accounts committees should ensure timely consideration of audit reports as well as address the late responses to audit queries by ministries, departments and agencies
According to him, “we are already working on the 2017 financial report for submission to the National Assembly for consideration”.
He said the last report submitted to the National Assembly was for 2016.
Ayine stated that there was no doubt that corruption had stifled economic growth and development in the country.
Good governance, he said, will remain a mirage in the country, without transparency and accountability.
“Corruption has stifled economic growth and development in our country. I am therefore, optimistic that synergistic effects of efforts of the three arms of government in ensuring openness and accountability can put Nigeria on a good pedestal and enable her attain her place in the comity of nations where corruption is despised.
The AGF noted that accountability has to do with stewardship while openness is important because nothing is hidden, a situation that makes corruption impossible.
Ayine who stressed the need for a paradigm shift in the country noted that the National Assembly could lead the way in being transparent through a demonstration of public accountability in handling its affairs, including finances.
He noted that “transparency allows access to information, reinforces accountability and makes corruption difficult to be successfully perpetrated because corruption is usually a hidden affair.”
Public accountability, according to AGF, will be greatly enhanced, if those in public positions begin to see governance as a social contract for the people they represent and realise that they are responsible to the public.