Poor Compliance Of MDAs With Nigerian Laws On Audits and Account, Worse In Buhari’s Tenure – Report
The Muhammadu Buhari administration has, compared to its predecessor, allocated less sums to the auditor-general’s office, which audits and reviews public accounts, an official document shows.
The poor funding since Mr Buhari assumed office in 2015 is now hindering the auditor-general from performing his crucial role necessary for transparency and accountability in government offices.
Although Nigeria’s budget increased in Mr Buhari’s first two full years in office, the money his government allocated to the audit office reduced, thus limiting the capability of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) to function appropriately.
The reduced funding came amidst increase in the national budget, the mandate of the OAuGF and public expectations of transparency and accountability in government activities, said Anthony Ayine, Nigeria’s Auditor-General of the Federation.
Mr Ayine’s remarks are captured in the 2016 audit report by his office.
The report is the latest by the auditor-general’s office and was released last month.
Mr Ayine, who lamented the poor funding, noted that severe funding constraints continue to be a major impediment to achieving the statutory and constitutional mandates of his office.
“The National Budget, the mandate of the Office and public expectations have been increasing over the past years, just as the annual audit budget has been on a steady decline,” he lamented.
Mr Ayine was appointed by Mr Buhari after after “emerging tops at rigorous mandatory written and oral interviews.” He assumed office in January 2017 after he was cleared by the Senate.
According to PREMIUM TIMES, the appropriation for audit showed that since Mr Buhari took over government in 2015, there has been a sharp decline in the amount appropriated for the auditor-general’s office.
A breakdown of the figures shows that in the three-year period preceding Mr Buhari’s reign, more allocations were appropriated for audit of government accounts. In 2012 for instance, N3.1 billion was allocated for audit while the national appropriation stood at N4.8 trillion. In 2013, N3.6 billion was budgeted while the total national appropriation stood at N4.9 trillion. The sum of N5.1 billion was budgeted for audit in 2014 while the total national appropriation stood at N4.6 trillion.
In 2015, however, the figures began to record a decline as N3.2 billion was appropriated for audit while the total national budget stood at N4.4 trillion. Although Mr Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, the 2015 budget was prepared and signed by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.
Since Mr Buhari’s government started preparing its own budget, however, budgetary allocations to the auditor general have gotten worse amidst total increase in budget figures.
In 2016, the appropriation to the OAuGF stood at N2.79 billion while the national appropriation stood at N6 trillion. In 2017, the audit figure reduced slightly to N2.78 while the total national appropriation shot up to N7.2 trillion. The appropriation for audit across these years, the auditor-general report said, included personnel cost of the OAuGF.
A PREMIUM TIMES review of the 2018 budget, however, shows an increase in budgetary allocation to the office. The total allocation to the auditor’s office increased to N5.1 billion, although about 94 per cent of that sum (N4.8 billion) is meant for recurrent expenditure.
In his 2016 report prepared before the 2018 budget was concluded, Mr Ayine lamented that the appropriated sums were not only reduced but the actual funding has been repeatedly cut over the year. This makes it difficult for his office to deliver on its mandate of ensuring that accounts of MDAs are checked thoroughly to ensure transparency and accountability in government and prevent graft and other fraudulent transactions.
“Funding for audit has been cut repeatedly over the years, and actual releases for Overheads in 2016 was less than half of the already inadequate budget,” Mr Ayine noted in the executive summary of the report. “The present funding levels make it very difficult to fulfil my constitutional mandate and cover the full range of governance issues to the satisfaction of all key stakeholders.”
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how the 2016 audit report showed that more ministries, departments and agencies have refused to submit their accounts for audit since Mr Buhari took over power. The report showed that poor compliance of MDAs to Nigerian laws on audit and submission of accounts is worse in each of Mr Buhari’s first two years in office than any previous year since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.
Commenting on the failure of the MDAs to comply with audit laws, Mr Ayine said the development was of “great concern” and suggested that “stringent sanctions”, including withholding financial releases and sanction of heads of defaulting agencies, should be put in place by the Nigerian government.
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