*OAuGF has no power to audit NNPC, CBN, others -Adolphus
Senate Committee on Public Accounts has described service wide votes as the biggest fraud in Nigeria.
This is even as the acting Auditor General of the Federation, AuGF, Mr Aghughu Adolphus declared that his office lacks the constitutional power to audit the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and other big spenders among the government agencies.
Service wide vote is contingency fund in the national budget under the control of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
It would be recalled that the federal government allocated N758 billion for a service-wide vote in the 2021 budget.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South), who spoke yesterday during the confirmation hearing of the Acting Auditor-General of Federation, AuGF, Mr Aghughu Adolphus, said the fund was the biggest fraud because it is not audited.
He said: “Service-wide vote is the biggest fraud in Nigeria. It is meant to meet the unseen situation, nobody gives an account on the service-wide vote. Standing Committees of the Senate do not know anything about its spending.”
The lawmaker told the acting AuGF to brief the panel on how he would audit the fund.
“You should tell us how are you going to audit this service wide votes.”
Responding to question on how the OAuGF has not been auditing the accounts of NNPC, CBN and others, Adolphus, said: “For the big spenders, it is the constitution that has an issue. By virtue of 1999 Constitution, we will just provide list of what we need for them and they will make their choice, if they decline to give to us, we have no power to compel them.”
He, however, assured the lawmakers that the OAuGF would look to the issue of non -auditing of service-wide votes.
Speaking on the challenges of the Office, Adolphus, who is President Muhammadu Buhari
‘s nominee as the new AuGF, said the workers are working under the tedious condition as there is no enough staff to carry out the task of the agency.
He said: “In some states, the agency has only three staff available and as a result of this, most of the works are not carried out by the office.”
The nominee, therefore, solicited for the full autonomy of the OAuGF so that it can able to carry out its task effectively, lamenting that lack of fund halted efforts of the agency to acquire some software that will aid the staff work because it was struck out of the budget.
He, however, said that the agency is currently discussing with some donor agencies in order to acquire the software.
Some of the senators who spoke during the screening exercise expressed dissatisfaction with the poor funding of the OAuGF which is meant to tackle corruption.
Chairman of the committee specifically said that the Office has been designed to fail due to non-availability of funds to carry out its task.
He submitted that the National Assembly
will ensure that no agency appears for budget defence without responding to issue raised in the report of AuGF.