Senate begins probe of federation accounts

The Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) has launched a full scale probe into the federation account from 2015.

The current regime under the leadership of the President,  Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), took over in 2015 from the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The Chairman of SPAC, Senator Mathew Urhoghide,  told our correspondent in an interview that the National Assembly had yet to audit the   federation account under this regime, despite budgetary allocations to the ministries,  departments and agencies of government every year.

He also lamented that many of the MDAs had yet to respond to the queries raised against them by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, regarding their financial transactions.

He said his committee would sit every day for the next six months to enable them to do justice to the auditor general’s report on the federation account from 2015 till date.

Urhoghide said all the revenue generating agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria,  the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Nigeria Customs Service, etc., had been notified while some had already appeared before the committee.

He added that the revelations from his committee’s recent conclusion of various queries raised against most agencies of government indicated that many many MDAs in the last five years have been spending money without recourse to the Appropriation Act.

He said, “We have discovered that the ministries, departments and agencies of government spend money that was not appropriated.

“What we did was to find out if the money spent as pounded for by the Appropriation Act.

“We discovered that some of the  MDAs are guilty of this. These are mind-boggling figures, running into trillions of naira.

“Now, we have finished assets and liabilities, we have now entered the federation account.

“We will scrutinise all payments made into the federation from 2015 till date.

“We will find out who brought what and who took what.  We will scrutinise the accounts of the NNPC, Customs, FIRS and the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

“We have started inviting them.

“We will clear all the issues regarding revenue generation and expenditure before the budget for 2021.

“We will clear the backlog from 2015 to 2019. It is a shame as a nation that we keep budgeting money for MDAs without proper auditing of accounts.

“It is when we finish our assignment and send it to the President through the National Assembly leadership that we will know that we are doing the right thing.”

We hope to finish our job within the next six months. In the Establishment Act,  the legal framework for the MDAs, we are supposed to audit their accounts six months into the new fiscal year.

“By May 31st this year, all the accounts ought to have been audited.

“It is not good to have budget without auditing the accounts of the MDAs.

“By the grace of God,  this 9th Senate will do the right thing and the President will know how the money budgeted is being used.”

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