PAC members, AGF’s office retreat, seek bill against graft

Auditor-General for the Federation, Anthony Mkpe Ayine

To empower Nigerians in the fight against corruption, members of Public Accounts Committees (PACs) of the National Assembly and management of Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) have called for the passage of the Audit Bill.

Speaking at a two-day joint retreat for members of PACs of the National Assembly and management of OAuGF in Lagos at the weekend, the AGF, Anthony M. Ayine, noted that the retreat would make the partnership between the Senate and House of Representatives a robust one and enable them better appreciate the expected role of the country’s various anti-graft agencies in the war.

At the event, themed: “Partnership between the OAuGF and Public Accounts Committees: A must for entrenchment of transparency,” Ayine pointed out that once the bill is passed, it would contribute to the fight against graft, mete out sanctions to future offenders and also serve as deterrence to them.

While berating their members for targeting the anti-graft war only at individuals, they called for a holistic approach to the battle, adding that the passage of the audit bill would aid the country’s corruption agency in the fight.

Ayine stated that as the foremost audit institution working and helping the country in transparency and accountability, the members should reposition themselves effectively so as to discharge the mandate they have.

To do this, Ayine noted, the OAuGF has submitted an Audit Bill, which is before the National Assembly, to afford it the administrative and financial autonomy desirable to function effectively.

He explained: “We have prepared and submitted an Audit Bill, which the House of Representatives has passed; and this Audit Bill is now before the Senate, the upper chamber of the National Assembly. It is our hope that if this Audit Bill is passed, it will help this office to have the kind of audit independence that the Supreme Audit Institution should have.”

Noting, however, that Nigeria’s quest for good governance would be a reality when transparency and accountability become the watchwords of all public office holders in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s firm and principled stand on corruption, Ayine added that citizens of any country are the “ultimate owners” of the resources, hence, it must be managed for their benefit by the government,

He stated: “PAC essentially seeks to ascertain to what extent revenues have been collected and expenditure incurred in the manner government or the Legislature approved or intended; PAC uses auditor-general’s report(s) and oversight functions to examine accounting officers and other persons entrusted with the receipts and utilisation of funds and other assets.”

Also, Chairman, PAC, House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, who urged members of the House of Assembly to be transparent internally, advocated that the public should be made aware of events in the House and allowed to contribute to
the graft war.

Optimistic about the success of the anti-graft war, Chinda urged all Nigerians to be accountable and hold the elected representatives, members of the executive council accountable.

Lamenting that Nigeria is not making the expected progress in its anti-graft war, Chinda called for the strengthening of anti-corruption institutions to battle and conquer the war.

Vice chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Gbolahon Dada, who represented the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Andy Uba, urged Nigerians to reposition themselves for the anti-graft war and do what is expected of them.

However, Dada said that the bill would make public officers abide by the oath they swear before assumption of duty, ensure transparency and lay a foundation for a society where integrity becomes the norm, ethical standards and moral values are order of the day.

Dada noted that the first thing to do is to educate their fellow staff on the objective and purpose of the task of ensuring transparency and accountability in public offices.

Sunday Adepoju, representing Ido/Ibadan Federal Constituency, said that the AGF’s Office should release the audit reports early enough to the public to enable them punish offenders.

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