Reckless spending has not changed under Buhari —Reps

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has said Nigeria has not been witnessing prudent use of government resources under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The committee said the current administration could not be differentiated from the previous ones in terms of prudent use of government funds.

The Chairman of the PAC, Mr Kingsley Chinda, who in company with members of the committee addressed journalists in Abuja on Monday, said the lawmakers were currently examining the annual reports by the Auditor-General of the Federation submitted to the legislature.

When asked about reckless spendings by government especially the ministries, departments and agencies, Chinda said, “Generally, what we have observed is that not much has changed from the reckless system that we have operated in Nigeria. Not much has changed. Public spending is still not very responsible and so, we need to begin to change.

“One of the problems we have is that our institutions are very weak; institutions are not strengthened; the government is not making deliberate efforts to strengthen institutions and therefore, when you talk about the fight against corruption, you find out that it might not be sustained because the institutions that ought to fight corruption are not strengthened.

“One typical example is the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation from where we get our raw materials. The good thing that will happen to the fight against corruption is assent to the Audit Commission Bill. We pray that the assent is not refused as usual.”

Answering a question on the Service Wide Vote which had been identified as a drain pipe in the economy, Chinda noted that there were no-go areas in the committee’s activities.

He said, “If we had gone the way you are looking at the Service Wide Vote, I am not sure that we would have achieved what we have achieved today. So, there are areas that deliberately, we refused to go the old way to enable us to achieve what we have achieved.”

The lawmaker lamented that there was a backlog of Auditor-General’s reports pending before the National Assembly, stating that it was not good for the anti-corruption war.

“That we met a backlog of Auditor-General’s reports on MDAs hanging, it is something. Even when we meet our colleagues from other climes, it is a low-point for this country; it is a low-point for our drive against corruption.  And so, we said we must begin to erode that. If that is our only achievement, so be it,” he said.

Listing the discoveries by the committee, Chinda said, “A total of 552 MDAs were queried by the Office of the Auditor-General, covering the period of 2010 to 2014. Of that number, the committee was able to consider 512 of those queries. In the course of that consideration, the committee was also able to, in 2010, recover or map out recovery sum of N1,967,146,030.72.

“And then, we also referred to the relevant authorities; that is, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Nigeria Police, a total sum of N72,567,233,846.49 and $1,819,361 for recovery.” Punch

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