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Buhari Yemi 99

(Special Report) Between fighting corruption claims and audit mess amongst MDAs

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A messy scenario suggesting complete opposite of the key campaign point of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration right from 2015 to date may be playing out amongst Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government at the ongoing account review seating with National Assembly Committees on Public Accounts.

Analysts and followers of Buhari’s anti-corruption policy had thought that the target exemplary leadership and financial discipline being preached by the administration would have played out from the activities of MDAs serving the administration.

However, happenstances at the both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly in the last two weeks are showing otherwise as majority of the MDAs invited to show evidence of financial diligence especially in their respective annual audits have failed to display the spirit of fighting corruption, accountability and openness in running their budgetary allocations after all.

It would be recalled that on assumption of office in 2015, President Buhari assured that due process must be used in all official expenditure under his watch and he spiced the policy up with the effective introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA).

However, five year after, signals coming from MDAs accounting system failed to suggest strict adherence to financial discipline which is known for transparent audit records.

On Tuesday this week, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts gave reasons why Heads of MDAs must appear before it to answer queries raised in the audited reports by the Office of Auditor-General for the Federation (OAUGF).

Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP-Edo), Chairman of the Committee gave the reasons when officials of some MDAs appeared before the committee in Abuja yesterday.

Urhoghide said the MDAs were invited to answer queries raised on public finance spending in the 2015 audited reports of the OAUGF.

He said the report raised some queries on the spending activities of the MDAs, hence their invitation. He said many of the agencies were yet to respond to the letter inviting them to respond to the queries.

Urhoghide said the committee would give fair hearing to the MDAs to defend their queries as indicated in the report.

The Committee chair said it was the responsibility of his team to ensure that MDAs give account of their expenditure, noting that its report on interface with the MDAs would be presented to Senate at plenary for onward transmission to the Executive.

Urhoghide however insisted that heads of MDAs must appear in persons to respond to the queries, warning that there were serious consequences for breaching financial regulations.

He assured that the committee after consideration of the 2015 audited report would also consider the 2016, 2017, 2018 audited reports of the OAGF.

Officials of MDAs who appeared before the committee included those of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, National Pension Commission and Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.

Others were the Nigerian Customs Service, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, among others.

Agencies absent at the meeting included the Federal Inland Revenue Services, Debt Management Office and Office of The Head of Service of the Federation among others.

Political economists and public affairs analysts, who have been following the OAGF audit revelations across all MDAs are worried and argue that for key revenue driving MDAs not to present and defend an error free account of their yearly activities leaves mush to be desired of the acclaimed anti-corruption mantra of Buhari administration.

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