Reps recover N1.9bn from auditor-general’s report, refer N72.6bn, $1.8m for recovery
... say corruption still high in government
House of Representatives has recovered the sum of N1.9 billion from auditor-general’s report between 2010 and 2014.
The House also referred to the EcHonomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Nigerian Police, a total sum of N72.6 billion and $1.8 million for recovery.
Kingsley Chinda, chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, who made these revelations Monday, while briefing journalists in Abuja, disclosed that fixed assets had also been recovered by the Committee.
Chinda said, “Among the fixed asset, two Peugeot 504 cars, one Peugeot 406 valued at N1,460,000 and then one Berretta pistol and 13 round live ammunition were also sent back to the Federal Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to Chinda, 552 MDAs were queried by the office of the Auditor-General covering the period 2010 to 2014 out of which the committee was able to consider 512 of those queries.
Chinda said in last four years, the Committee has cleared the Auditor-General’s report from 2010 to 2014 and laid the 2010 report before the National Assembly which has been considered and passed, saying it is first of its kind since 1999.
“At the inaugural meeting of the Public Account Committee on Tuesday, May 10 November 2015, we made several commitments to you in the press briefing which we had with you at the inception of the Public Account Committee.
“One of such commitments is to work assiduously to raise standard of our oversight performance to an enviable height in line with the best global parliamentary practice to address the hip of backlog of Auditor-General Reports and move from the paper documentation to a paperless system.
“Today, we have been able to establish a fully functional Public Account Committee website platform with a server in a committee room 446 and it is currently being put into use and again we can proudly say today we are leaving a paperless Public Account Committee of the House of Representatives.
“Our hearing on the Auditor-General’s Annual reports on the accounts of MDAs covering 2010 and 2016, we met a backlog of reports from 2010 up to 2014 and then we received 2015 and 2016 from the office of the Auditor-General,” he stated.
The House Public Accounts Committee Chairman, further disclosed that, “several referrals were made to the committee and we considered a bill for an act to repeal the Public Account Committee 2004 successfully and that bill has been repealed by the House of Representatives and it has moved on to Senate for concurrence.
“We also consider referral on the joint investigative hearing with the Committee on Finance to ascertain the status of recovered public fund and assets from 1999 up to 2017 and on the need to investigate tax incentives and waivers granted to multinational corporations in Nigeria. These two referrals were made to the joint Committee on Finance and Public Accounts and they were adequately considered”.
Chinda noted that corruption was still high in government and reckless spending has not changed as institutions of fighting corruption such as Office of the Auditor General were week, stressing that for fight against corruption can succeed with assent to the Audit Commission Bill.
“Generally, what we have observed is that not much has changed from the reckless system that we have operated in Nigeria. Not much has changed. Public spending is still not very responsible and so we need to begin to change.
“One of the problems we have is that our institutions are very weak, institutions are not strengthened, the government is not making deliberate effort to strengthen institutions and therefore, when you talk about the fight against corruption you find out that it might not be sustained because the institutions that ought to fight corruption are not strengthened.
“One typical example is the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation from where we get our raw material. The good thing that will happen to the fight against corruption is assent to the Audit Commission Bill. We pray that the assent is refused as usual,” he said.
Speaking further on corruption, the Public Account Chairman, said, “that is part of the Auditor-General’s query in some of the years that we considered and we also made it explicit that the Public Account Committee of the 8th assembly; we agreed that we are not going to play to the gallery, we agreed that we are going to do our work without pushing anybody to the wall and we also agreed that we are not going to be persecutors – we are not going to put anybody on trial, we are only going to do our work and ensure that some of the things that are not done in the past are done.
“If we had gone the way you are looking at the service wide vote, I am not sure that we would have achieved what we have achieved today. So, there are areas that deliberately we refused to go the old way to enable us achieve what we have achieved.
“That we met backlog of Auditor-General reports on MDAs hanging, it is something. Even when we meet our colleagues from other climes, it is a low point on this country. It’s a low point on our drive against corruption and so we said we must begin to erode that. If that is our only achievement, so be it”.