3 December 2012

Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala, Sanusi Face Reps Panel Today Over N4 Billion AGF's Funds

Nigeria's finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and the Director-General of the Budget Office in the Presidency, Dr. Bright Okogwu, are scheduled to appear today before the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain their alleged roles in withholding over N4 billion earmarked for the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF).

The Solomon Olamilekan Adeola-led PAC said the allocation freeze had grievously crippled the AGF's constitutional role of auditing the 2012 budget.

The AGF, Mr. Samuel Ukura, told PAC that his office allocation to audit the 2012 Budget is N5.2billion, but the Ministry of Finance had released only N892.5million.

Ukura said there was zero allocation to his office in the 2013 Budget to audit the federation account, another development Okonjo-Iweala, who also doubles as Coordinating Minister for the Economy, is expected to explain.

He also told the committee that his office managed to audit only 44 out 97 foreign missions in 2012 because of inadequate funds. "With the meagre allocation to our office, we cannot even audit some ministries", he said.

PAC Chairman, Adeola (Lagos/ACN), insisted that financial autonomy for the auditor's office was overdue.

Committee members took turns to comment on the matter. Pally Iriase (Edo/ACN) said "If you look at this budget (of Auditor General), it shows how unserious we are about tackling corruption in this country.This budget ought to signpost our seriousness in tackling the issue of corruption head-on, but the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office, in their own strange wisdom, have decided that the best thing to do is to frustrate the office of the Auditor-General."

On his part, Karimi Sunday (Kogi/PDP) said, "There is a continuous attempt to frustrate and render the office of the Auditor-General redundant. They (Ministry of Finance and Budget office) do not want the office to do its work, but there is a need for this committee to do its own work".

The committee, however, deferred consideration of the sum of N1.6 billion as the committee's budget in 2013 as proposed by the Ministry of Finance.

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