By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
There is still widespread corruption in the Nigerian public account system and the only condition capable of preventing the trend is when the federal government assents to the Audit Commission Bill as a way to correct the anomalies.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Hon. Kingsley Chinda, who made the assertion Monday when reeling out the achievements of his committee in the eighth assembly, said public spending in Nigeria is still characterised by recklessness.
The lawmaker said the fact that the committee met a backlog of auditor-general reports on MDAs hanging was evident that things are not right in the public account system, adding that: “Even when we meet our colleagues from other climes, it is a low point on this country. It’s a low point on our drive against corruption and so we said we must begin to erode that. If that is our only achievement, so be it.
“Generally, what we have observed is that not much has changed from the reckless system that we have operated in Nigeria. Not much has changed. Public spending is still not very responsible and so we need to begin to change.
“One of the problems we have is that our institutions are very weak; institutions are not strengthened. The government is not making deliberate effort to strengthen institutions and therefore, when you talk about the fight against corruption, you find out that it might not be sustained because the institutions that ought to fight corruption are not strengthened.
“One typical example is the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation from where we get our raw material. The good thing that will happen to the fight against corruption is assent to the Audit Commission Bill. We pray that the assent is not refused as usual.”
Chinda, in company with other members of the committee, said they worked selflessly and sincerely to improve public account in the country, adding that: “Our hearing on the Auditor-General’s Annual reports on the accounts of MDAs covering 2010 and 2016, we met a backlog of reports from 2010 up to 2014 and then we received 2015 and 2016 from the office of the Auditor-General.
“Within this period, we have cleared the Auditor-General’s report from 2010 to 2014. We have laid the 2010 report before the National Assembly and that report has been considered and passed and we think that is a first we have had in our democratic experience as a nation.
“A total number of 552 MDAs were queried by the office of the Auditor-General covering the period 2010 to 2014. Of that number, the committee was able to consider 512 of those queries. In the course of that consideration, the committee was also able to, in 2010, recover or map out recovery sum of N1,967,146,30.72k. And then, we also referred to the relevant authorities, that is, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), ICPC and the Nigerian Police, a total sum of N72,567,233,846.49k and $1,819,361 for recovery.”
He said fixed assets recovered are two Peugeot 504 cars, one Peugeot 406 valued N1,460,000, one berretta pistol and 13 round live ammunition, which he said have been sent back to the federal government.