The Senate, yesterday took a swipe at the office of the Auditor- General of the Federation, AuGF, saying that it lacked the Manpower to carry out its statutory function of auditing the ministries, departments and agencies of government, just as it said that with this, it was designed to fail as an agency of government as he does not edit as auditor general.
Responding to Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine who accused the National Assembly of not concluding works on audit reports submitted by his office to the parliament since 1999, Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Edo South, also accused the AuGF of using reports of external auditors to write reports.
Answering questions from Journalists yesterday in Abuja, at the ongoing orientation programme for Senators-elect/members-elect of the 9th National Assembly, Senator Urhoghide also accused Atine of failing on his part to query the use of one particular external Auditor by an agency for more than ten years.
The Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF), Anthony Ayine, had last week during his presentation to the lawmakers-elect, urged them to as a matter of urgency, take steps to clear the mounting backlogs of audit reports that have submitted them, saying that to the best of his knowledge, there is no Auditor-General's report that has been fully considered by the National Assembly since 1999.
Speaking further, Senator Urhoghide said, "the much I know since I became the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, about a year and half ago, is what I can say. When the Auditor General came for his budget defence, I told him that the fact that we have not conducted hearing on his queries does not mean that he should not bring audit reports. We have not received audit report for 2016. The Auditor General resumed office in 2017.
"Since he came, he has not submitted any audit report to the National Assembly. He is even supposed to be concluding works on 2018 because the law said that it must be submitted, six months into the new financial year. This is the fourth month. By the time we get to June end, he is expected to submit audit report for 2018. He doesn't have the competent manpower to conduct audit.
"Our committee is not set up to consider audit report alone. We have a lot of motions that we moved , we have submitted reports on status enquiries of those whose audited accounts have been submitted. We investigated and submitted reports on the subsidy issue, the $1bn euro-bond issue, withdrawals made from the Service Wide Vote from 2012 till date. If we have audit reports from 2015 till date, we would be able to establish a pattern.
"For instance in 2016, we saw that N14bn was removed from one federal fund meant for intervention in states that were distressed and given to the Ministry of Defence. The Auditor General queried that. When I called the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence and drew his attention to it, because it is an extra-budgetary allocation made to them. That was apart from the N2.7bn given to them behind the doors from the Service Wide Votes. I asked what they have done with the funds. It is only public accounts committee that can see all those things.
"The Permanent Secretary was surprised and said, "we didn't form a new division in the army.' However, the report is saying so.
"Has the Auditor General been steadfast in the submission of his own report? He doesn't edit as auditor general. He is using the reports of the external auditors to the various agencies to write his own reports. The Auditor-General has done nothing to query the use of one particular external auditor by an agency for more than 10 years. The President has failed to assent to the Federal Audit Bill that we passed, otherwise there would have been serious repercussions for defaulters.
"The bill proposed the establishment of the federal Audit Commission. Today, people who read geography in schools are auditors. His office lacked manpower. Go there today, they are still putting their reports in sacks. How can a whole Auditor-General of the Federal budgeted N900, 000 for training of his staff in 2019.
"That is what he presented in the budget we just passed for him. The office of the Auditor -General is designed to fail. Instead of checking corruption from being committed through his office, we are busy releasing billions to the anti-corruption agencies after the crime has been committed. Why can't we train the personnel in the Auditor General's office so that they can nip corruption in the bud."