The Senate has vowed to pass the Federal Audit Bill on resumption to address the lacuna in audit law and tackle corruption.
The Vice Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Ibrahim Hadejia, made the vow in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.
He attributed the federal ministries, agencies and departments’ flagrant disregard to National Assembly’s directive on audit report submission to absence of an enabling law in that regard.
Hadejia confirmed that most of the MDAs ignored the ultimatum issued to them by the Senate to submit their audited accounts for scrutiny since they had disregarded a similar order from the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
He said, “There is an attempt to address that by trying to get the Federal Audit Bill passed on resumption.
“As the law stands now, even constitutionally, the Auditor General for the Federation has serious limitations as to how far he can go in ensuring that the MDAs submit their audited accounts.
“In fact, part of the constitution actually ties his hands. So, the MDAs are hiding under that lacuna not to do the needful.”
Hadejia added that the proposed Act of the parliament would address the issue of funding which he described as a major challenge to the office of the Auditor-General.
He said, “We have a country that more or less focuses on what happens after a crime has been committed using the anti-graft agencies rather than focusing on prevention.
“If you make the financial and transaction atmosphere so tight that people cannot see any loophole where to steal money, then people will give up.
“When you go to other countries that are very high on the corruption scale like Singapore, and the Scandinavian countries, it is like the people there are saints.
“It appears so because the underlining structure surrounding transactions is rooted in transparency and it is difficult for anyone to manipulate the system. If you do it, you will not succeed; they will catch you.
“However, when you leave it open, even if you bring a Singaporian here, you take him to an MDA and he sees how lax, how very loose our financial regulations are, he can’t resist the temptation to be corrupt.”
“So, we are calling for more funding for the office of the Auditor-General so that he can do what he ought to do.
“We need to ensure that the Auditor-General is empowered so that he has personnel in most of the MDAs and to ensure that he has the capacity to compel compliance with external relations.
“This will ultimately reduce the work that ICPC and the EFCC are doing.
“Part of the proposal in that amended law calls for the creation of a deputy auditor-general’s office and creation of a systematic approach to auditing.
“It will also create an atmosphere that will move most of our offline transactions to online.
“Once we embrace e-governance, we will take out the human elements from most of the transactions.”
The senator said when the bill was signed into law, it would change the mind-set when it came to auditing for public funds.