By EricJames Ochigbo
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Benjamin Kalu says the 10th Assembly is committed to collaborating with the Executive to ensure the prudent use of funds by government agencies.
Kalu made this known at the unveiling of the House Committee on Public Accounts (PAC) and a workshop organised for its members by Africa Development Study Center (ADSC) in Abuja.
Kalu said PAC was one of the most important committees of the house, and its importance is underscored by its express creation by Section 85 subsection 5 of the Constitution.
He said the section states that PAC shall examine the audited accounts of government, showing the appropriation of the sums granted by the house to meet public expenditure and any report made by the Auditor General of the Federation concerning such account.
“In the 10th Assembly, PAC is committed to deepening engagement with the executive arm of government to ensure that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) hold the principles of accountability, principles of transparency and products, and the management of public funds.
“The PAC is also committed to strengthening the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, in line with the best global practices,” he said.
Kalu called on President Bola Tinubu to appoint a substantive Auditor-General of the Federation, saying that it was a sensitive office that could not continue to have an acting director for over a year.
He said that when that was done, it would send the right signal out that the government is ready to pursue taxpayers’ money and ensure effective usage.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Bamidele Salam (PDP- Osun) said the vision of the committee was to significantly improve on the delivery of the mandate of the Public Accounts Committee as enshrined in the Constitution, the Standing Orders of the House.
He acknowledged the work done by all the previous leadership and members of the public accounts committee of the house up to the 9th assembly.
“But the purpose we have set for ourselves, according to the charge of the speaker is to ensure that will improve on every area of the operations of the committee and that formed the canal of this vision.
“The mission is to ensure that ministries departments and agencies of the federal government utilize public funds in a lawful, predictable, transparent, and accountable manner for the good of the Nigerian people.
“Because the assignment we have, whether as was political leaders for public servants or civil servants has only one goal, and that is the goal of service delivery to the shareholders with the core values of transparency, independence, fairness for public interest,” he said.
Earlier, Amb. Victor Oluwafemi, CEO of the Africa Development Study Center (ADSC) said that the ceremony is an opportunity for stakeholders to come together and work towards a common goal of strengthening the oversight role of the committee.
He said that with proper human capacity development, coaching, guidance, and resources, PAC will fulfill its crucial mandate in safeguarding public finances and ensuring the appropriate utilization of public resources in line with national development and progress
“As we get on this mutual partnership, we must reiterate the pivotal role that PAC members play in safeguarding the existential principles of fiscal responsibility and good governance for the common good of all.
“Today’s engagement reflects the importance of PAC-affirmed commitment to help build a better Nigeria, as well as the national yearning to inspire thoughts and actions to redefine fiscal responsibility and oversight function,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of a coalition of 120 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on audit, Mr Odegbami Olusegun said that of the 900 agencies of government that get funding through the Ministry of Finance, only 23 percent were audited in 2013.
He said in 2014, 17 percent were audited, in 2015 only 19 percent were audited and in 2016, only 13 percent were audited.
Olusegun said in 2017, only 12 percent were audited, saying that something was wrong that needed to be corrected by the 10th assembly.
“We could talk about the resources that are available to the auditor general to do his work but sadly we cannot measure accountability against this you know insignificant amount of MDS that are covered annually.
“The timeless of the report of the auditor-general; the 2019 report of general took about 23 months after the end of the financial year 23 months after the end of the financial year.
“The best practice is that the report of the auditor general should be out in the public domain not more than 18 months after the end of the financial year.
“The report for 2020 is taking more than 34 months already. We still do not have it and we are not even talking about the report for 2021 and 2022,” he said. (NAN)