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Senate to pass Federal Audit Bill upon resumption

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By Chibisi Ohakah

The Nigerian Senate has assured that the Federal Audit Bill will be passed upon resumption of the upper chamber to deal with the issues arising in audit law and corruption.

In a chat with newsmen in Abuja, Vice Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Ibrahim Hadejia, complained that the federal ministries, agencies and departments’  are flouting National Assembly directive on audit report submission, a development he said is attributable to the absence of an enabling law in that regard.

Hadejia complained that most development agencies ignored the ultimatum issued to them by the Senate to submit their audited accounts for check, and had in the same way disregarded a similar order from the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.

“There is an attempt to address that by trying to get the Federal Audit Bill passed on resumption. As the law stands now, even constitutionally, the Auditor General for the Federation has serious limitations as to how far he can go in ensuring that the MDAs submit their audited accounts.

“In fact, part of the constitution actually ties his hands. So, the MDAs are hiding under that lacuna not to do the needful,” the lawmaker said

He pointed out that the proposed Act of the parliament would address the issue of funding which he described as a major challenge to the Office of the Auditor-General. “We have a country that more or less focuses on what happens after a crime has been committed using the anti-graft agencies rather than focusing on prevention.

“If you make the financial and transaction atmosphere so tight that people cannot see any loophole where to steal money, then people will give up. When you go to other countries that are very high on the corruption scale like Singapore, and the Scandinavian countries, it is like the people there are saints,” Senator Hadejia said

He stressed that the current situation the MDS’s and their audit reports appears so because the underlining structure surrounding transactions is rooted in transparency and it is difficult for anyone to manipulate the system. Anyone who does it, will be caught, he said

“However, when you leave it open, even if you bring a Singaporian here, you take him to an MDA and he sees how very loose our financial regulations are, he can’t resist the temptation to be corrupt. So, we are calling for more funding for the office of the Auditor-General so that he can do what he ought to do.

“We need to ensure that the Auditor-General is empowered so that he has personnel in most of the MDAs and to ensure that he has the capacity to compel compliance with external relations. This will ultimately reduce the work that ICPC and the EFCC are doing,” the lawmaker said

According to him, part of the proposal in that amended law calls for the creation of a deputy auditor-general’s office and creation of a systematic approach to auditing. He explained that it will also create an atmosphere that will move most of the offline transactions to online.

“Once we embrace e-governance, we will take out the human elements from most of the transactions,” he said, stressing that when the bill was signed into law, it would change the mind-set when it came to auditing for public funds.

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