The AGF did not have a permanent office.
President Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to strengthen anti-graft agencies and institutions to intensify the fight against corruption and other fraudulent practices in the country.
Mr. Jonathan made this known when he inaugurated the new building for the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in Abuja on Tuesday.
The president said that the move to strengthen the agencies and institutions, especially the auditor-general’s office became imperative, following public outcry that public funds were not being properly accounted for.
“I am greatly pleased to commission the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, the supreme audit institution of our country. This building signifies the central fiscal regulation and the national accountability institution of the country. I granted the request to purchase this building by the auditor-general because I believe that the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation must be conducive for them to carry out their core mandates,” Mr. Jonathan said.
According to him, an effective and efficient auditor-general’s office will not only guaranty accountability, but will ensure that the fight against corruption will be won.
The president expressed delight over the decision of the National Assembly to commence constitutional amendment of the audit bill which would make the office independent and less susceptible to corruption. He assured that the Federal Government would do everything possible to assist the office of the auditor-general by ensuring that funds were made available to enable it perform optimally.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Lawan Ahmad, said the fight against corruption would not succeed if the anti-graft agencies were not strengthened.
Mr. Ahmad noted that the National Assembly was working hard to ensure the independence of the office of the auditor-general at both the federal and state levels through first line charge.
“We believe that this law will ensure the independence and proper funding of the office of the auditor-general, and hopefully all states of the federation will pass this also in line with best international practices. Today in the 2014 budget proposal, the office of the Auditor-General had about N3.1 billion to audit a budget of N4.6 trillion. This is not practical; the auditor-general cannot perform its functions effectively and efficiently. We believe that Mr. President will ensure that this kind of under-funding will seize. Because if they are empowered enough to be able to audit all the accounts, corruption will be reduced, and the EFCC will have little or no work to do,” he said.
Earlier, the auditor-general, Samuel Ukura, said the office had been occupying a rented accommodation in the last 20 years, even when other government agencies had acquired their headquarters in Abuja.
“May I seize this opportunity to inform Mr. President that the office intends to pull out all its members of staff from the premises of auditee to this building. This will guarantee operational independence which is in line with international best practice. However, I regret to inform Mr. President that this building is not adequate for this planned withdrawal of our members of staff. Presently, we have about 240 rooms in this building housing 800 staff, leaving about half of the 1,800 staff outside the headquarters,” he said.
Mr. Ukura said the office had also introduced seven new audit areas in the country, which included performance, information technology, forensic, risk-based environmental performance information as well as the audit of more than 100 foreign missions yearly.
According to him, the performance audit involved investigation to ascertain whether projects awarded were executed.
Mr. Ukura pledged that his office would continue to ensure that public funds in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies were audited regularly and sent to the National Assembly promptly.
The Minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed and Jonah Otunla, the Accountant-General for the Federation, among other dignitaries, attended the event.