Leave smaller agencies, probe NNPC, NPA, others, Senate challenges Auditor-General

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The Senate, on Monday, berated the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, for allegedly focusing only on small agencies and leaving out big revenue generating agencies in its audit activities.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, said the trend of removing big spenders from the watch list of the AuGF’s office had been ongoing since 2015.

Urhoghide, who represents Edo South Senatorial District, spoke when the Office of the Auditor-General appeared before his committee to defend its 2021 budget.

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He particularly asked the Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, to beam his searchlight on agencies like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, among others.

“You claim that you are auditing the accounts of the federation and you will not touch the accounts of NNPC, NPA, NIMASA etc. You will remove all the big spenders from your watch list but you will focus on smaller agencies. That is what has been happening from 2015 till date,” Urhoghide said.

“We don’t want to be seeing these smaller agencies of government that you are focusing on. We are tired of seeing audit queries involving municipal councils leaving behind the big agencies,” he added.

He however noted that the Senate was doing its status enquiries on the Bureau of Public Procurement based on the report from the AuGF’s office, adding that the lawmakers were working on expanding the scope.

“We want to expand the scope. We want to look at their revenue and expenditure profile. We will look at the budget, particularly the Internally Generated Revenue. We want to see all they have been collecting and how they’re spending it,” the senator said.

The committee chairman also advised the AuGF not to wait for corrupt activities to occur in Ministries, Departments and Agencies before acting, saying the Office must always be proactive.

“Negligence has led to the institution of corruption. Why should you wait for corruption to be consummated in Nigeria before you act? You should undertake performance audit at every stage of construction. You should not wait till the project is completed before raising the alarm and allow EFCC to step in and collect huge sums to fight corruption,” he maintained.

Urhoghide however threatened that if the Office of the AuGF refused to shun internal wrangling and tribal conflict that could negatively affect its operations, the Senate would be forced to declare the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation vacant.

“The infighting among you must stop. There is no regulation that says that an external person cannot be Auditor General. The office of the Auditor General is not a progressive union affair. That position can be advertised,” he said.

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