The Nigerian political parties were indicted in a report.
The external auditors appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to audit the political parties in the country have indicted 54 of them for not adhering to the accounting procedures in their operations in 2011.
According to the report, which is the latest by the auditors, while some of the parties ignored the conventional books of accounts, others did not have membership register at their headquarters during the year that the last general elections were conducted.
Other lapses noticed in the operation of some of the parties include absence of self audit report (internal and external), non-existence of fixed asset and liability, and lack of fiscal control measures.
Altogether, the accounts of 56 political parties, including those later de-registered, were audited by the external auditors.
The exercise was concluded in February 2013.
Among the major parties indicted by the Commission’s auditors are the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; and the Labour Party, LP.
Only the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; and the Citizens Popular Party, CPP; escaped INEC’s hammer as they were found to have complied with the Political Party Financial Reporting Manual 2011 and Political Party Finance Handbook 2011.
ACN, in particular, was found to have maintained internal audit report and account as well as conventional books of accounts during the year under review. The auditors also said that budget and budgetary control of the opposition party were in place and that the party has a well defined fixed asset register while its membership register was in place.
On PDP, the audit report said, “The party does not have a prepared internal audited financial statement for the year.” It also noted that “Conventional books of accounts were not properly kept as required by Section 93 (2) of the Electoral Act” and “the Party did not maintain fixed assets register both at the Headquarters and Zonal offices.”
The Commission’s auditors, therefore, asked the ruling party to establish and maintain necessary records and accounts of its financial transaction in the states and zonal chapters so as to have a global view of the affairs of the party.
The ANPP was indicted for the same offences as PDP. Additionally, the Nigerian opposition party was discovered not to have maintained membership register even as it had no prepared budget for the year under review.
The report urged the party to “improve on the filing system by computerising its account functions for future transaction.”
It also admonished the party to maintain an effective internal control system and comprehensive fixed assets register and that membership register should be introduced.
The CPC, according to the report, did not have budget and budgetary control throughout 2011, amongst other improper accounting procedures. Accordingly, the Commission’s auditors asked the party to “endeavour to write up all the relevant books of accounts from where its financial statements could be extracted for analysis and proper evaluation and monitoring.”
It also asked CPC leadership to open a membership register and endeavour to install a more effective internal control measure in compliance with the political parties finance manual handbook.
The auditors rebuked APGA, for not maintaining a membership register at its headquarters. The party was also scolded for not having internally prepared and approved audited financial statement for the year under review.
The party was then asked to install “an effective internal control system for checks and balancing and endeavour to maintain a comprehensive membership register and remittances of all deductions to the necessary agencies.”
Expectedly, the ruling party at the federal level, PDP, lived up to its billing as the biggest party in the country as, according to the report, it expended a whopping N4.35 billion in 2011 for its activities even though it generated N647.41 million.
The PDP controls the government at the centre and 23 state governments, has about 75 senators and over 200 members in the House of Representatives.
ANPP came a distant second to PDP with an expenditure of N893.40 million and an income of N786.59 million.
ACN and CPC, according to the report, followed with the expenditure of N464.69 million and N363.58 million respectively though they generated N670.24 million and N304.87 million, respectively.
APGA raked in N23.75 million but spent a total of N280.10 million in the year under review while the Labour Party, LP, generated an income of N129.25 million and expended N132.87 million.
Interestingly, the report says two parties, Accord and United Democratic Party, UDP, did not generate any income in 2011.
Although, it claimed not to have derived any income, the UDP said it spent N4.4 million for its activities.
The Acton Party of Nigeria, APN; and Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP; did not submit their accounts to INEC for auditing.
Altogether, the parties audited raised a total income of N4.75 billion but expended N8.95 billion in the election year, 2011.
Meanwhile, some of the parties are already kicking against their indictment. A dependable source told PREMIUM TIMES that the ANPP leadership has protested to the Commission over what it called “inaccurate report.”
The party, it was learnt, said its account books are clean since its own auditors gave it a clean bill of health before its submitted its account to INEC.
Two other parties, ACN and CPP have also protested against a remark by INEC Director of Political Party Monitoring and Liaison, Regina Omo-Agege at a forum, in which she claimed that the parties did not comply with accounting procedures in 2001.
A Development Consultant, Jide Ojo told PREMIUM TIMES that the remarks of the auditors raised by INEC to audit the parties are not new. He, however, attributed the poor accounting records of the parties to “mischief and incompetence.“
Mr. Ojo explained that most of the parties are unwilling to comply with the financial regulations because they feel that since the grants from the Federal Government through INEC to them is not forthcoming, the Commission has no business monitoring their finances and funding, which now come from their members.
“To me, this is mischief,” he said. “They forgot they are public institutions and as such the law expects to comply with all finance regulations.”
Mr. Ojo noted that the action of the parties borders on incompetence as “many of the parties do not have the capacity to fund audit of account.”
He noted that the way out of this is for parties to share manpower.
“For instance, if a party cannot hire a chartered accountant, it can ask another party that has to help out while it also helps out in other areas.”
Despite indicting the parties, INEC seems to have exhausted the means to make them comply with the standard financial guidelines as contained in the Political Party’s Manual and Handbook.
Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, told PREMIUM TIMES that there is nothing the commission can do to ensure that the parties adhere to the accounting procedure and forestall indictment.
“There is nothing we can do; ours is just to monitor party accounts and that is what the law says,” Mr. Idowu said.
The Electoral Act, 2010, empowers INEC to examine the detailed account of all registered political parties in the country.
According to Section 89 (1), “Every political party shall submit to the Commission a detailed annual Statement of Assets and Liabilities and analysis of its sourcing of funds and other Assets together with statement of its expenditure in such a form as the Commission may from time to time required.”
Subsection 2 says, “The Statement of Assets and Liabilities referred to in subsection (1) of this Section shall be in respect of the period 1st January to 31st December in each year, and that in the year which this Act comes into operation, it shall be for the period beginning with the registration of such party and ending of the following 31st December.”
Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution (amended) gives INEC powers to monitor the financial records of all political parties.
Until the amendment to these documents, there were two major sources of funding for political parties, namely private and public.
However, with the amendments, funding is now limited to private. The main sources of private funding are membership dues, subscription from members, private contributors, especially from elected officers and fund raising dinners.