2017 Audit Reports of MDAs: CHRICED Flays Culture of Impunity And Opaqueness in Nigeria’s Public Finance Management
· Says Executive, National Assembly Complicit in Institutionalization of Corruption
Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has been going through the details of the recently released 2017 audit reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as published by the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation. At a time when citizens are clamouring for open, accountable and transparent governance, the anomalies and irregularities detailed in the report, are, to say the least, very shocking. From the conclusions in the report relating to the extent of impunity underlining public finance management across the MDAs, many will now understand why Nigeria fared so poorly in the recently released Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.
For an administration, which has declared the fight against corruption as one of its prime areas of focus, the damning revelations of the audit reports on MDAs, especially the defiance for extant accountability rules, call for urgent and very drastic measures. For instance, the report reveals that 265 MDAs received appropriation, but did not submit a report of how they spent the money. Bearing in mind that this particular audit is only focusing on 2017, it can be concluded that those 265 MDAs have also gone ahead to receive appropriations in 2018 and 2019. The report also detailed how 11 MDAs have never submitted their financial reports since establishment. Yet, those erring MDAs have continued to receive funds from the public treasury in total disregard for public sector financial rules and guidelines. The 2017 Report also brought to light how other MDAs blatantly refused to return surplus revenues to the treasury, with such instances costing the country billions of Naira.
This sordid state of affairs is yet another reminder of the collective failure of the executive and the National Assembly to enforce fiscal discipline and responsibility across all structures of government. What this shows is that these institutions are so complicit in financial haemorrhage of the country that they are unwilling to take practical steps to enforce accountability. A National Assembly, which knows its onion, would have since stopped making an appropriation for all MDAs that have failed to account for what they received from the public till.
Similarly, an executive arm, which is clear-headed enough and understands the damage caused by MDAs deliberately bleeding the country, would have set up a feedback mechanism to check the efficiency and effectiveness of financial resources allocated to these bodies and spent by them. The implication of this lax culture of financial accountability across the indicted MDAs is that the country is merely pouring finances into a basket case situation. Nothing good in terms of policies and programmes can ever come out of opaque and corruption-ridden MDAs, which dodge accountability and fail to let a statutory body know how they spent monies, which accrued to them.
While it has become the norm to sweep issues in damning reports such as this under the carpet, CHRICED expects that an administration trumpeting anti-corruption would tackle the issues raised urgently. CHRICED calls on the government to give a timeline to the indicted agencies to do the right thing without further delay. To serve as a deterrent against such opaque approach to the management of the MDAs, CHRICED calls for the mass prosecution of the officers responsible for financial reporting in the MDAs, who failed to discharge their responsibilities, yet got paid from the public purse for work not done. Monies lost in the time these acts of impunity went on, must be recovered and returned to the treasury.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi