By Felix Khanoba
A civil society organisation, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), has raised an alarm over the N9.7 billion that was unaccounted for in the 2017 audit report.
The organisation said while 32 projects worth N17 billion meant for implementation in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory were awarded to various contractors, data from the 2017 audit report of the Federation reveals that about N9.7 billion was unaccounted for.
PLSI Executive Director, Olusegun Elemo, who made this known while addressing newsmen in Abuja, expressed disappointment on the recurring and flagrant disregard for public procurement and financial regulations of Nigeria.
He said the unaccounted funds when compared to similar publication of the 2016 Audit Report of the Federation showed an increase of N6.8 billion (70.1percent), an indication that accountability in the utilisation of public funds is getting worse.
“Nigeria must commit to ensuring that public funds are not just spent but also properly accounted for.
“You are aware that President Buhari laid before the National Assembly last Thursday the 2021 budget estimate of N13 trillion and nobody is asking the big question of how do we ensure that this huge funds is efficiently, effectively and economically utilised?
“What justification do we have to continue to spend without adequate audit mechanisms? How do we use a 1956 Audit Act to evaluate 2020 budget? It is completely unreasonable and that is where the problem is,” Olusegun said.
On the EndSARS protest by youths in the country, the PLSI Executive Director blamed the action on the general failure of accountability.
His words: “What young people are protesting about today is not just the failure of the policing system or SARS but the failure of the entire democratic culture that continues to keep young people under.
“There are no jobs , no quality education or healthcare, no efficient transportation system and all these and many more challenges are due to the lack of accountability in the utilisation of public resources.”
Speaking further, Olusegun called for the need to empower the Office of the Auditor -General of the Federation to play more effective role in ensuring public funds begin to work for citizens, adding that Nigeria should also ensure office of the Auditor General is tenure based instead of the present civil service rule that prescribe mandatory retirement at the age of 60 years.