This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: House Summons Finance Minister, DG Budget Over Zero Allocation to Budget Audit

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Director General, Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okongwu, over the non-provision of funds for the audit of the Federation Account in the 2013 appropriation bill.

The duo are also being invited to respond to allegations that they frustrated the audit of the 2012 budget by withholding over N4billion earmarked for the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

It was learnt that the sum of N5.2billion was earmarked for the audit of the 2012 budget but the Ministry of Finance, allegedly released only N892.5million to the office of the Auditor General.

The allegations came to light when the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura, appeared before the House Committee on Public Accounts to defend the N1.6billion budget earmarked for for his in 2013 appropriation bill.

According to Ukura, the non-release of funds to his office had impacted negatively on its operation as the accounts of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) could not be audited because of insufficient funds.

Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Solomon Adeola(ACN/Lagos), said the long term solution was for the legislature to work towards the financial autonomy for the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

Similarly, a member of the committee, Hon. Pally Iriase (ACN/Edo), said the Auditor General's office did not deserve to be starved of funds given the central role it ought to play in the fight against corruption in the country.

"This budget (2013) ought to signpost our seriousness in tackling the issue of corruption headlong, 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," Iriase said.

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