…say you’re guilty of reckless expenditures during Lockdown
…demands explanation for bogus training expenses, international travels, welfare packages
The House of Representatives on Wednesday accused the office of the Auditor General to the Federation (oAuGF) of spending N1.9million on an empty staff clinic.
The lawmakers in session also queried the reckless expenditure observed in its financial records from the approved budgetary allocation for 2019 to 2021.
The House also asked the nation’s financial police of unwarranted spending even in the face of the crippling covid-19 lock down in 2020.
TheNewsGuru.com, (TNG) reports the resolution was passed during an oversight function to the oAuGF headquarters in Abuja, where chairman and members of the House Public Accounts Committee, led by Hon. Wole Oke, who picked holes in the financial reports without vouchers and other supporting documents.
Some of the subheads queried by the lawmakers include: N1.9 million allegedly spent on new clinic and additional sum of N3.967 million spent on drugs and medical supplies as well as N7.721 million spent on medical consulting despite payment of N55.933 million as NHIS contribution as contained in the 2020 financial statement against N87.870 million NHIS contribution paid in 2019.
The oversight which transmuted into a regular legislative session for the committee also saw the lawmakers demanding for the staff nominal roll of the office of the Auditor General for the Federation over increase in the N1.977 billion personnel cost for 2019 to N1.991 billion was appropriated in 2020, despite the depleting workforce and the request for 500 new staff.
However, a visit to the clinic which is located on the first floor of the Audit House, revealed that there were only two female nurses dressed in mufti and a medium oxygen cylinder beside a single and the only bed in the supposed health facility.
According to the documents presented to the Committee, out of total sum of N984.231 million budget appropriated in 2019, the sum of N969.487 million was released for which training got a larger chunk of the released fund.
The lawmakers however queried the sums of N120,304,830 spent on international travels & transport (audit of foreign mission, consular offices & 20 defence attaches); N40,710,380 spent on local travels & Transport (training), additional N286,881,055.18 on local travels & transport, others (hqtrs/State branch office and additional N100,093,600 spent on local travels as well as N35,710,812 spent on Auditors-General annual conference without specifying the location and vouchers; N3.527,267 spent on sporting activities; N11,946,250 spent on welfare packages without specifying beneficiaries and vouchers; N59 million spent on Governance/Institutional reforms as well as beneficiaries of N696,500 spent on honourarium and sitting allowances and N62.768 million spent on office stationaries/computer consumables for the period under review.
In the same vein, the oAuGF spent N28,850,080 on purchase of
unspecified number of desktops and laptops computers as well as the sum of N49,999,616.88 without any payment vouchers.
During the investigative hearing, the lawmakers also queried the total sum of N1.358 billion Appropriated for overheads in 2020 out of which N1.324 billion was released and spent despite the economic lockdown at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing them to lament that larger chunk of the fund was expended on training/local travels and transportation, while subheads on office rehabilitation and maintenance were duplicated in the capital component of the 2020 financial records made available to the Committee during the oversight function.
However, the Auditor General who bragged about his exploits in auditing international organizations such as the African Union could not tender any prove to justify the bogus expenses recorded in the agency’s books.
Other controversial subheads queried by the lawmakers include: N32.628 million spent on local travels and transport; additional N331.455 million on local travels & transport, others (Hqtrs & States), N25.004 million on international travels & transport; N188.762 million spent on international travels & transport (audit of foreign mission, consular offices and 20 Attaches) and additional N961.441 million on local training; N21.051 million spent on office stationaries/computer consumables; N3.967 million spent on drugs and medical supplies;N96.274 million spent on maintenance of office building (Lagos & state offices), additional N4.395 million on maintenance of office furniture and N16.830 million on maintenance of office/IT equipment; N4.002 million on other maintenance, N77.284 million on welfare packages,N8.423 million on sporting activities, N6.780 million on honourarium & sitting allowances, N7.721 million spent on medical consulting despite payment of N55.933 million as NHIS contribution; N14.542 million spent on Governance/Institutional reforms; N10.590 million spent on purchase of desktops & laptops computers; N72.555 million spent on insurance premium; N6.194 million spent on refreshment & meals; N24.016 million spent on monitoring/evaluation, among others.
Reacting to the development, Hon. Omowumi Ogunlola from Ekiti State said: “We have a document prepared for us which is pre-emptive. We don’t have any evidence or proof of how the money here is being expended. We at the Public Account Committee have always insisted that MDAs come in with evidence of their expenditure. Is it because this is Auditor General’s office that they will just give to us these documents for us to see without any evidence of how the budget given to them is being expended?”
“Secondly, this is the office of the Auditor General for the Federation. You audit all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Who audit this office? Which office is saddled with that responsibility of checkmating this office?
“We are not auditing them, but oversight them. So, who calls to order the recklessness of the financial spending of this office?”, the lawmaker queried.
While stressing the need for the oAuGF to provide all supporting documents for all the expenditures incurred by the Organisation since 2019 to date, committee chairman, Hon. Oluwole Oke demanded for relevant documents for the N72.555 million spent on insurance premium in 2020.
The Committee, following the encounter issued a 7-day ultimatum for the office to submit documentary evidence of all expenditures for the three years under review.