The House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has summoned the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Director General Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, the Acting Accountant General Of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh and the Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan over the budget of the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF).
Chairman of the committee, Wole Oke (PDP, Osun) announced the summon after the 2023 budget defence presentation by the Acting Auditor General of the Federation, Andrew Okwudili on Wednesday.
The summon came after the committee discovered that the OAuGF’s budget proposals particularly its capital and overhead were slashed by the Budget Office which the committee rejected.
The committee discovered that the Auditor General’s office proposed a total of N11.151 billion, but the budget office slashed it to N5.112 billion.
Oke said the finance ministry and Budget Office were deliberately underfunding the OAuGF’s office to carry out its constitutional duty while funding ancillary agencies with billions.
He said, “It is very unfortunate that we have noticed the concerted effort, determination to undermine the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. To eradicate, to repeal illegally the Supreme audit institution of this country.
“We have seen the determination of the lieutenants of Mr President, particularly the minister of finance, the DG Budget office to undermine Mr President in his determination to wage war against corruption on the land.
“Otherwise, why would you allocate several billions to ancillary institutions and you are giving N62 million to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to fund capital? They have to go cap in hand to pay for workers?
“They are understaffed, they are undermined. They cannot conduct performance audit. As we speak, this office is yet to lay their reports in respect of 2022 and 2021 financial years.
“If the Auditor General of the Federation has conducted needs assessment in terms of personnel, in the areas of working tools and have office in all the 36 States and the FCT and they came to the conclusion about what they need and submit same to the Budget Office and the Budget Office violated that same principle, Procurement Act and now reduced the Capital requirements of this agency to N62 million, reduced their Overhead by N3 billion and gave the agencies of government that are doing virtually nothing billions of naira, there is no other way to tell Mr President that his lieutenants are working against him.
“We reject this budget. This budget cannot work. The Auditor General of the Federation, the minister of finance are hereby summoned to appear before this committee to come and tell Nigerians.
“The minister for finance, the DG Budget, the Accountant General of the Federation, the three of them should cause appearance before this committee and tell Nigerians why they are undermining the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.”
Earlier, the Auditor General of the Federation, Andrew Okwudili while presenting the 2023 budget proposal informed the committee that the office’s proposed capital expenditure was N2.518 billion but was slashed to N62.701 million.
He said the 2023 Budget proposal was aimed at ensuring the implementation and achievement of the goals and objectives of the budget as envisaged by President Muhammmadu Buhari.
He said, “A Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) requires adequate funding, equipment and facilities to operate efficiently. Government needs to appreciate the challenges and cost implication of every agency carrying out modern audit.”