Audited reports: Senate threatens to withhold MDAs’ 2018 budget

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja


The Nigerian Senate has threatened to withhold the 2018 budget of more than 400 Departments and Agencies of government following their failure to submit audited reports of the affected offices as required by the constitution.

Senate’s decision to withhold MDAs’ budgets was the major highpoint of its resolution at Wednesday’s plenary, following the consideration of the report of its committee on Public Accounts, on “the status of compliance of parastatals’ submission of audited accounts.”

It also gave the affected Parastatals a deadline of May 2018 to submit their audited reports to the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) or risk non passage of their Appropriation Bill.

According to the Senate public accounts committee report presented by its Chairman, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, among the 497 Parastatals considered, only 47 complied fully with the constitutional requirement of submitting audited reports to the AGF.

Other recommendations adopted by the senate in plenary include; that the office of the AGF should constantly update and reconcile with parastatals on their status of compliance, while also liaising with the bureau for public enterprises (BPE), and the office of the SGF to clarify status of privatized companies as well as those already merged or scrapped.

The executive arm of government according to the report, should promptly reconstitute board of parastatals whenever they are dissolved so as to enable them approve the appointment of external auditors. Senate also adopted a recommendation seeking to strengthen the office of the AGF through provision of adequate budgetary allocations.

Sharia Court

Meanwhile, the Senate President has also revealed that since the 8th Senate was inaugurated in June 2015, it has confirmed 227 out of 240 nominees that it received from the Executive.

Speaking after the confirmation of Hon. Ibrahim Rufai Imam, as the new Grand Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal, Senator Saraki said, Let me on behalf of the entire Senate congratulate the new Grand Khadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Hon. Ibrahim Rufai Imam and wish him a successful tenure as he continues to play his role in the judiciary.”

He expressed worry that sometimes, many followers of proceedings in the red chamber get the impression that the 8th Senate tends to say more ‘No’ than ‘Yes,’ but the available records on the number of confirmations by the senate, show the level of cooperation that the present senate continues to give the executive.

Financial Intelligence

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday said the prompt passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill by the National Assembly will facilitate the country’s readmission into the EGMONT Group rather than being expelled.

“I hope on the part of the Executive, they will quickly assent to this Bill and also ensure that the independence of the Financial Unit goes beyond just signing this Bill into law.

“It is important that we see it being practiced — this is very important. I hope on their part, this will be done so that our country stays as part of the EGMONT Group that has a lot of benefits for our fight against corruption. I thank you all, my colleagues, for how quickly you responded to this. You came quickly to save the country,” he stated.

The Bill, when it receives the Presidential assent, would make the NFIU an independent entity and also help Nigeria in the fight against corruption. The Bill was earlier passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

According to the amended Act, the NFIU will now be domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) instead of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a situation that led to Nigeria’s suspension from the EGMONT Group.

After suspending Nigeria, the Egmont Group had demanded that the NFIU should be pulled out of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, among other requirements.