Three days ago, the Auditor General of the Federation, in line with Section 85(2) of the 1999 Constitution, submitted the 2014 audited accounts of the Federation to the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The Office of the Auditor General is created by Section 85 of the Constitution, and subsection 5 gives him powers to conduct periodic checks on all Government statutory Corporations, Commissions, Authorities, Agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly.
Section 85(6) grants full independence to the Auditor General in the discharge of his duties and states clearly that he shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person in the discharge of his functions.
This is indeed a very important office.
NNPC and Auditor General
The 2014 audited accounts submitted by the Auditor General, amongst others, stated clearly that the NNPC failed to remit to the Federation Account, the sum of 3.235 Trillion Naira for that year.
Any reasonable person will naturally be alarmed with this report. That amount is about 16 billion Dollars! Coming from such an office, it is only natural to take the report seriously.
The report made headlines across the globe. Top media organizations like the BBC carried the news. Why not?
16 billion dollars is a lot of money!
Now, yesterday, the NNPC released a strongly worded statement where it clearly denied the reports of the Auditor General.
The statement was signed by one Mr. Isiaka Abdulrazaq, NNPC’s Group Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer. The statement did not just deny the claims of the Auditor General, it went ahead to provide what I consider plausible explanations on the issue.
The NNPC said that the Auditor General displayed ignorance of how the corporation runs its operations and how it remits funds to the federation account. The NNPC, however admitted in their statement that what it owed to the Federation account as at January 2015 was 326,142,137,205.79 which figure is still being reconciled.
The NNPC now made a statement that really got me thinking. It said “…best practice and established due process in accounting require that after any audit, there should be an exit meeting between the auditor and the auditee where any outstanding issues are finally discussed and explained before the issuance of an audit report. No such meeting was held before and NNPC did not receive any draft report from the Auditor General’s office for comments before it was submitted to the National Assembly“.
This part of the statement raises very serious issues concerning professional competence and adherence to established rules of procedure.
Does it mean that the Auditor General ignored extant rules in compiling his report? In presenting his audit report to the National Assembly, one would expect that the Auditor General has complied with all standard rules of procedure.
The office has a full complement of officers and personnel, Directors, etc. The Office is independent and no politician works there.
The present Auditor General, Mr. Samuel Ukura was appointed by the late President Yaradua in June 2010 and has remained in office till date. He has served three different Administrations.
Does it mean that we have an incompetent man occupying such high office for almost eight years now?
A few months ago, the Auditor General released the audited accounts of the NDDC wherein he stated that the Agency could not account for about 87 billion Naira. The NDDC swiftly denied this report and described it as false.
Now that the audit report is before the National Assembly, we expect that appropriate steps be taken to unravel this mystery.
It’s obvious that someone is lying here.
Is it the Auditor General?
Is it the NNPC?
Whose report shall Nigerians believe?
This issue should not be viewed from political stand points but should be seen from what it truly is…a serious issue that has grave implications on the way our national life is run.
As always, let me look for my Snuff Box.