Reps committee allege reckless spending by AuGF, uncovers billions spent without documents
The House of Representatives has accused the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (oAuGF) of engaging in unnecessary expenditure while Nigeria struggled in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
The House said its accusation is hinged on its observation in the financial records from the approved budgetary allocation for 2019 to 2021 of the office of the Auditor general.
The Chairman and members of the House Committee on Public Accounts had picked holes in the financial reports submitted by the OAuGF as well as those without vouchers and supporting documents during an oversight function to the oAuGF headquarters in Abuja.
The lawmakers queried the N1.9 million allegedly spent on new clinics, an additional sum of N3.967 million, spent on drugs and medical supplies as well as N7.721 million spent on medical consulting despite the payment of N55.933 million for NHIS contribution as contained in the 2020 financial statement against the N87.870 million NHIS contribution paid in 2019.
The lawmakers at the oversight also demanded the staff nominal roll of the Auditor-General’s office over an increase in the N1.977 billion personnel cost for 2019 to N1.991 billion appropriated in 2020, despite the depleting workforce.
During a tour of the facility, the committee’s visit to the oAuGF clinic on the first floor of the Audit House revealed that only two female nurses dressed in mufti were on seat while a medium-sized oxygen cylinder stood by the lone single bed in the supposed health centre which reportedly gulped millions.
Meanwhile, documents presented to the Committee showed that out of the total sum of N984. 231 million appropriated in 2019, only N969.487 million was released and training gulped a better percentage 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.
They also queried the 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 honorarium and sitting allowances and N62.768 million spent on office stationary/computer consumables for the period under review.
The oAuGF also spent N28,850,080 on the purchase of an unspecified number of desktop and laptop computers as well as the sum of N49,999,616.88 without any payment vouchers.
The lawmakers l 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 but the office defending itself said a larger chunk of the fund was expended on training and local travels as well as 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.
Following the discoveries, the Auditor-General could not justify or reconcile 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, lawmaker, 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 expended?”
Reps Ogunlola also sought to know which office has the responsibility of auditing the Auditor General’s office.
He said, “We are not auditing them, but over-sighting them. So, who calls to order the recklessness of the financial spending of this office?”, the lawmaker queried.
He emphasised the need for the oAuGF to provide all supporting documents for all the expenditures incurred by the Organisation since 2019 to date while the committee chairman, Oluwole Oke demanded 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 expenditure for the three years under review.
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