Senate: Service Wide Vote Biggest Fraud in Nigeria
- We have no power to audit NNPC, CBN, others says acting AuGF
By Deji Elumoye
The Senate on Thursday described the service wide vote in the federal budget domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Finance as the biggest fraud to have happened to Nigeria.
This is just as the Acting Auditor General of the Federation, Adolphus Argungu, disclosed that his office had no constitutional power to audit the account of agencies like the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others.
Speaking at the confirmation hearing of Acting Auditor-General of Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Uhroghide, while stressing that service wide fund was the biggest fraud in the country as the annual vote had never been audited stated particularly that in the 2021 budget, the federal government allocated N758 billion for service wide vote.
According to him, “Service wide vote is the biggest fraud in Nigeria. It is meant to meet unseen situation, nobody gives account on service wide vote. Standing Committees of the Senate do not know any thing about its spending”.
He specifically said that the Office of Auditor General had been designed to fail because there was no sufficient fund for the office to carry out its task.
Urhoghide submitted that the National Assembly will henceforth ensure that no agency appears for budget defence without responding to issues raised in the annual report of Auditor General of the Federation.
The ranking Senator thereafter asked Aghughu to brief the panel on how he would audit the service wide fund saying, “You should tell us how are you going to audit this service Wide Votes.”
In his response, the Acting Auditor General assured the Senators of his readiness to look into the issue of non -Auditing of Service Wide Vote.
Speaking on the challenges of the Office, he said the workers of the agency are working under tedious condition as there is no enough staff in Auditor General’s office to carry out task of the agency.
He added that in some states, the agency had only three staff on ground and as result of this most of the works expected to be executed were not carried out by the office.
The nominee solicited for full autonomy for the office of the Auditor General of the Federation so that it can be able to carry out its task effectively, adding that lack of fund halted efforts of the agency to acquire some software that will aid its work because it was struck out of the budget.
He however said that the agency was currently discussing with some donor agencies in order to acquire the software.
The AuGF also told the committee that his office
lacked the constitutional power to audit the annual accounts of parastatals and agencies like Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NIMASA and other big spenders among the government agencies.
Responding to a question om why the Auditor General has not been able to audit big spenders, the nominee said “for the big spender, it is the constitution that has issue, by virtue of 1999 Constitution, we will just provide list of what we need for them and they will make their choice, if they decline to give to us, we have no power to compel them.”