The National Assembly management failed to account for a total expenditure of over N9.4 billion in 2014, the latest audit report has revealed.
The money included N9.39 billion for which no “documentary evidence” was provided and a N47 million to be returned to government coffers out of which only N360,000 was returned; giving a total of N9,440,844,572 (nine billion, four hundred and forty million, eight hundred and four thousand, five hundred and seventy two Naira).
The audit report of government bodies (2009-2014) was submitted to the Clerk to the National Assembly in March 2016 as statutorily provided. The full contents were recently publicly disclosed by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation on its website.
The report indicted several government bodies of illegal and profligate spending, and failing to remit over N3 trillion into government’s treasury.
Apart from the National Assembly, other key bodies indicted include the state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ministry of Interior, the Presidency, Central Bank of Nigeria and some foreign missions.
According to the report, between January and December, 2014 under the leadership of David Mark as Senate President and Salisu Maikasuwa as the Clerk, the Management Department of the National Assembly Commission transferred N9,392,995,515.00 (Nine billion, three hundred and ninety-two million, nine hundred and ninety-five thousand, five hundred and fifteen naira) from the general services account to other accounts in different banks.
The purposes stated for the transfer include Senate General Services, Appropriation, Constitutional Review, House of Representatives Services, UNDP Projects and Research Office Services.
However, “no expenditure returns or documentary evidence were rendered to account for how these sums were expended,” the report said, raising question of accountability and legality.
In another case, the report disclosed that the National Assembly management remitted only N360,000, out of a N47 million balance of total personnel vote release and actual expenditure for 2014.
“It was further observed that the total Personnel Vote release for the year 2014 was N1,856,510,517.00 (One billion, eight hundred and fifty-six million, five hundred and ten thousand, five hundred and seventeen naira), and the Actual Expenditure for the same period was N1,808,661,460.18 (One billion, eight hundred and eight million, six hundred and sixty-one thousand, four hundred and sixty naira, eighteen kobo), resulting in a balance of N47,849,057.00 (Forty-seven million, eight hundred and forty-nine thousand, fifty-seven naira).
“However, only an amount of N360,115.08 (Three hundred and sixty thousand, one hundred and fifteen naira, eight kobo) was paid back to treasury at the end of the year.”
In May – after the audit report had been submitted to the National Assembly, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts led by Andy Uba (PDP-Anambra) held a public hearing during which a number of government bodies refuted certain findings of the audit report, particularly the disclosure that they didn’t submit their internal audit reports between 2009 and 2014.
Some of the bodies that challenged aspects of the report were CBN, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and Nigeria Pension Commission.
However, the National Assembly has not denied the findings of the audit report as they related to the lawmaking body – though its committee castigated the then Auditor-General of the Federation, Samuel Ukara, for an “unsatisfactory report”, cashing in on complaints by other government bodies.
The law says the National Assembly should refer the audit report to its committee on Public Accounts for consideration.
After considering the report, the committee is empowered to pass a resolution to either publish the report in the National Assembly journal or government’s official gazette.
Since the committee considered the report, it has not passed the resolution for its publication in either channel.
Efforts to reach Mr. Uba for comments were not fruitful. He did not pick calls to his phone or reply to text message.