The ministries, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government that failed to submit their audited accounts within eight years are the subject of a report by the House of Reps Committee on Public Accounts.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (now Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited); the Niger Delta Development Commission, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, among others; are prominent among those named in the report presented to the plenary on Thursday, December 8, 2022 by the committee’s chairman, Oluwole Oke.
It was titled, ‘Report of the Committee on Public Accounts on the Deliberate and Reckless Refusal by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government to Render Audited Accounts for the periods 2014–2018 and 2019–2021 to the Auditor–General for the Federation and Approve the Recommendations Therein.’
In the report, the Reps committee recommended prosecutions by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; warrant of arrest issuance against chief accounting officers and sanctioning of various MDAs.
For the financial years between 2019 and 2021; the committee urged the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Accountant General of the Federation and Auditor–General for the Federation; to “jointly issue a government circular specifying strong sanctions against agencies that violated Financial Regulation 3010.”
The committee also stated that “many Agencies often violate the Appropriation Act; by deliberately subjecting their internally generated revenue to some committees (of the National Assembly); directly overseeing them for approval and expend same illegally without Mr. President’s assent.”
In its findings in the first batch of investigations covering 2014 to 2018; the committee said some MDAs complained that the procurement process of hiring their external auditors was cumbersome; which was the reason for operating during these periods without being audited.
The Reps committee said it also discovered gross negligence by Directors of Finance & Accounts/Bursars in some MDAs; especially in ensuring the accounts are audited as and when due, delay in the appointment of governing councils/boards; as well as delay in approving/signing of audited accounts by the governing councils/boards.
According to the committee, some incumbent Chief Accounting Officers refused to sign audited accounts prepared by former CEOs; with some MDAs submitting unsigned accounts to it, while some letters evidencing remittance of audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation; had either faint or no acknowledgement of receipt stamp.
The Reps committee, therefore, recommended that all MDAs should be directed to submit their audited account on or before May 31 every year; that the board or governing council meeting should be convened to sign audited accounts immediately after it is submitted by the external auditors; that in the absence of a board or governing council, the supervising body of the MDAs should sign audited accounts in order to avoid delay in rendition to the Office of the Auditor-General.