The House of Representatives is proposing a bill to grant full autonomy to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation as part of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The legislation seeks to place the office on the first line charge of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government.
The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, on Sunday said the move would free the office from the “paltry” envelopes the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office of the Federation handed to it yearly as budget for its operations.
Olamilekan said the poor funding weakened the duties of the AGF’s office and encouraged corruption.
He cited the 2013 federal budget of over N4.9tr where the AGF’s office got only N892m to audit the accounts of close to 600 federal ministries, departments and agencies.
Olamilekan said, “We will ensure that full autonomy is granted to the office because their present status has made auditors to compromise on standards. This proposed bill will ensure full autonomy to the AGF’ office. This means that the office will be freed from the rigours it has been going through in the past years in terms of funding.
“Can you imagine that the budget office allocated less than a billion naira to the office to oversee a N4.9tn budget? As a committee, we had to intervene to increase the allocation. We will also ensure that all auditors are located in one complex as against the present situation where auditors are attached to MDAs.
“The danger in the present arrangement is that auditors can submit doctored reports. Where that is the case, the essence of auditing, which is to cut waste and graft, is defeated.”
In 2012, for instance, the AG, Mr. Samuel Ukura, had reported to the committee that he was unable to audit the accounts of 97 foreign missions because there was no money for his office to work.
Olamilekan, who said the committee would investigate the accounts of all federal institutions this first quarter of the year, added that the reason was to find out whether they complied with audit regulations in their operations.
He added that many of them had audit queries that needed to be verified to bring them in line with the series of reports by the AGF’s office.
Olamilekan stated, “Committee members will visit the six geo-political zones to ascertain their level of compliance. Those who failed to comply with audit regulations will be invited to tell us why they failed to comply.
“We are also aware of the fact that many of these institutions had embarked on white elephant projects and they can hardly defend their budgetary allocations.”