It was shocking when the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Nasiru Sambo admitted before the Public Accounts Committee of the House Representatives that there was no audited account of the agency for the past six years. This was as the House Committee on Finance also queried the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) over unremitted sum of N65.663 billion due to the federation account from 2014 till date.
At a Public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee chaired by Hon. Oluwole Oke, titled: “Refusal of Non-Treasury Funded and Partially Funded Agencies to Render their Audited Accounts Covering the Period 2014 – 2018 to the Auditor-General of the Federation”, the nation was stunned based on fragrant abuse of the nation’s financial regulations by chief executive officers of some government parastatals and agencies exposed at that house session.
The NHIS boss was grilled alongside the General-Manager (Finance and Administration) of the agency, Mr. John Okon, but they provided an alibi, blaming the infraction on the immediate-past Executive Secretary.
At another session bothering on the accounts of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex headed by Mrs. Lucy Ajayi, the House rejected the audited account of the agency accusing the management of doctoring the audit report, which it described as fraudulent and cooked up.
Similarly, the House Committee on Finance on same day queried the management of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) over alleged unremitted sum of N65.663 billion due to the federation account by FAAN from 2014 to date. Chairman of the Committee, Hon. James Faleke, expressed displeasure that expected receipts did not tally with invoiced services to customers. FAAN’s Managing-Director, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, was therefore ordered to bring FAAN’s bank statements lodged at the Zenith Bank and at the First Bank, the Internal Auditor’s reports, as well as that of the Auditor-General of the Federation. He was equally asked to bring up details of all contracts awarded, performances of revenue heads, and all other support documents.
based on the House preliminary investigations, it was gleaned from documents which emerged from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation presented by FAAN that the sum of N74.663 billion expected between 2014 and 2019, was under remitted to only N9.00 billion in the period.
According to Faleke, in 2014, N9.48 billion was expected, but only N500 million remitted. In 2016, N1.156 billion was remitted instead of N13.19 billion. Also in 2018, N1.77 billion was remitted out of N14 billion, while in 2019, only N1.539 billion was remitted instead of N15.49 billion.
From these two agencies alone, serious red flag need to be urgently raised on the nation’s public accounting system. If one should take these two agencies as parameter for gauging other agencies, one could imagine the level of rot within the public accounting space. No wonder we have several public officials who live in shocking opulence and only intimidate other civil-minded members of the population.
Otherwise, how could one explain the large number of unoccupied houses in the high-brow Asokoro, Maitama, and Gwarimpa Districts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Magodo and Lekki Districts in Lagos. Also, recent revelations arising from property already marked for investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arising from property alleged obtained through illegitimate earning, as well as property already forfeited by public officials buttresses such assertion.
The Nigerian ordinary citizenry have been complaining of unbridled opulence of some people, yet, the agencies where those people worked, claimed to have accounting and audit departments. It is therefore not enough for the National Assembly or any other anti-graft agency to simply recover presumed public property allegedly stolen from the public till, what is more important is to find out the roles of accountants working in the agencies where the felons who stole money to acquire those property. Also, the audit units of agencies of government should be held accountable for being unable to notice fraud and flag such, especially with the mind-boggling sums of money that are unearthed to have been stolen after every public inquiry.
It is also important to link these unbridled quest for sleaze to politics. With each passing election, it has been discovered that political actors are becoming more desperate in their quest to win at all cost, due mainly to their access to easy money, which are easily stolen from the till without let or hindrance. Expositions from the governorship elections in Kogi, Edo, Osun and Bayelsa states have clearly exposed the level of desperation of politicians to occupy public offices. That they could kill and maim people without scruples attests to the urgent need for us to control our public accounting systems. This is because unscrupulous politicians go the extra mile to hire thugs, arm them with sophisticated weapons and unleash them on members of the public unabashedly.
With the latest exposition, there is the need for all hands to be on the deck to halt these continuing loopholes that create room for serious financial infraction in the public space. Auditing rules must apply in all cases and follow-up of identified corrupt practices must be logically concluded without let or hindrance. That is the only way to rediscover Nigeria or our dream and push us to the Eldorado of our dreams.