By Akanimo Sampson
Many federal ministries, departments and agencies under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration have been spending money in the last five years without recourse to the Appropriation Act.
This is the worrisome revelation from the Senate Public Accounts Committee on queries raised against most agencies of the Federal Government.
Apparently disturbed, the Senate Committee is therefore, launching a full scale probe into the Federation Account from 2015.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, says “we have discovered that the ministries, departments and agencies of government spend money that was not appropriated.’’
According to Urhoghide, the National Assembly was yet to audit the federation account since the inception of the Buhari administration in 2015, despite budgetary allocations to the ministries, departments and agencies of government every year.
Continuing, he says many ministries, departments and agencies are yet to respond to the queries raised against them by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, regarding their financial transactions.
The Senate committee, according to its chairman, will sit every day for the next six months to enable them to do justice to the auditor general’s report on the federation account from 2015 till date.
Urhoghide pointed out that all the revenue generating agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Nigeria Customs Service, among others have been notified while some have appeared before the committee.
“What we did was to find out if the money spent as pounded for by the Appropriation Act. We discovered that some of the MDAs are guilty of this. These are mind-boggling figures, running into trillions of naira.
“Now, we have finished assets and liabilities, we have now entered the federation account. We will scrutinise all payments made into the federation from 2015 till date.
“We will find out who brought what and who took what. We will scrutinise the accounts of the NNPC, Customs, FIRS and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“We have started inviting them. We will clear all the issues regarding revenue generation and expenditure before the budget for 2021.
“We will clear the backlog from 2015 to 2019. It is a shame as a nation that we keep budgeting money for MDAs without proper auditing of accounts.
“It is when we finish our assignment and send it to the President through the National Assembly leadership that we will know that we are doing the right thing.”
We hope to finish our job within the next six months. In the Establishment Act, the legal framework for the MDAs, we are supposed to audit their accounts six months into the new fiscal year.
“By May 31, this year, all the accounts ought to have been audited. It is not good to have budget without auditing the accounts of the MDAs.
“By the grace of God, this 9th Senate will do the right thing and the President will know how the money budgeted is being used,” Senator Urhoghide says.