A COALITION of civil society organisations has demanded a full measure sanction against all federal agencies and their heads that have failed to account for public resources allocated to them in 2017 and the previous years.
The group in a letter signed by Ezenwa Nwagwu of Say No Campaign and sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, urged the three leaders to take prompt action to check the ongoing “flagrant abuse of public sector accountability rule” in the federal agencies.
The coalition wants the heads of government to immediately sanction errant officials and send clear signals of the administration’s commitment to accountability to all political appointees.
The letters were sequel to 2017 audited the report published in 2019 by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
According to the report, 265 Ministries, Departments and Agencies failed to comply with constitutional requirements to submit financial reports to the Auditor-General in 2017. There are 11 others that have never submitted annual reports since they were established.
This indicates that one in every three federal agencies receiving appropriation from the National Assembly failed to account for public resources allocated to them in 2017.
Though the Nigerian Constitution (Section 85) requires all federal agencies to submit Annual Accounts and Audited Reports to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation not later than 31 May of the following year of account, 160 agencies defaulted in the submission of audited accounts in 2016.
The violation dates back to 2011 when seventy agencies failed to submit a financial report to the auditor general. The number rose to eighty-five in 2012; one hundred and nine in 2013; one hundred and forty-eight in 2014 and two hundred and fifteen in 2015.
The CSOs therefore urged the 9th Assembly, to use its legislative powers to compel all MDAs to submit all outstanding 2017, 2018 and 2019 audited reports to the Auditor General or withhold further allocations to erring MDAs, among other sanctions.
“We encourage the Assembly, in accordance with its legislative duties, to institute a committee to probe these defaulting parastatals, especially those that have not submitted a single audit report, since their inception; advise the Attorney General of the Federation and the anti-corruption agencies to investigate and prosecute the past and current chief executive officers of these parastals, to ensure they adequately account for the utilization of the resources appropriated over the years, and to deter impending offenders.”
As a way of preventing this violation in the future, the rights group called on the National Assembly to pass Federal Audit Service Bill.
The bill will empower the auditor-general of the federation to sanction both the erring federal agencies and their heads, they advised.
“The bill gives the auditor general’s office the power to stop the emoluments and allowances of officials who fail or refuse to reply to audit queries within 30days and for as long as the persons fail to comply.”
While requesting that the names of erring MDAs and their chief executives be published for adequate sanctions and prosecution by the anti-corruption agencies, the group urged the presidency and the National Assembly to withholds further resource allocation to defaulting MDAs for the 2020 budget.
The coalition, however, commended the lawmakers for announcing its intention to stop budgetary allocations to MDAs without an audited account, describing it as a “move in the right direction”.
The coalition consists of YIAGA Africa, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre-CISLAC, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa- PAACA, Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy-AfricMIL, Enough is Enough-EiE and Centre for Transparency Advocacy- CTA.