Tony Akowe and Victor Oluwasegun, Abuja
GOVERNMENT agencies that fail to submit their audited accounts to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) will be blocked from accessing their budgetary allocations, the House of Representatives said on Monday.
The House also threatened to name and shame all ministries, agencies and departments (MDAs) that have failed to submit their audited accounts to appropriate quarters.
This is besides deploying the constitutional instrument of arrest, where violations border on criminality.
The House frowned at instances where MDAs were invited to appear before its Public Accounts Committee failed to do so.
It said such action was a clear indication that they have something to hide.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Oluwole Oke, spoke yesterday at a public hearing on the refusal of non-treasury funded agencies to submit their audited accounts to the OAGF, in accordance with laws of the land.
Oke expressed anger at the actions of the MDAs, saying: “When it comes to performing the duty of spending money as Chief Executive, you do that judiciously. But when it comes to rendering account, you are hesitant at doing so. If you don’t render account, how will the Auditor General be able to audit the account of the country and tell us the state of our finances?
“This parliament is determined to prove wrong all those people who say we are a rubber stamp. We are determined to do our job. It will no longer be business as usual. We believe that the MDAs that are not here have something to hide.”
The lawmaker was also unhappy with the absence of the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Central Bank or Nigeria (CBN) governor.
He noted that it was a sign of disrespect for the parliament.
Oke turned down an Assistant General Manager who said he was representing the Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Warning the MDAs concerned, he said: “The National Assembly will be left with no option than to exercise its power of appropriation to allocate nil funds to such MDAs for their failure to account for funds released to them.
“I must admit that the recent decision by President Muhammadu Buhari in ordering a probe into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and allegations of massive corruption within the system is clearly a case of failure of two of the tripod stands to hold their ground and play their constitutional role of checking and preventing abuse.
“The Office of the Auditor General for the Federation and House Committee on Public Accounts should have done better by unravelling and unearthing the allegations against previous management of the NDDC. This is apparently an indictment on these two institutions.
“We all must, therefore, seize this opportunity to correct the wrongs of many years. We must cooperate in finding the answers to these problems. The probe will be thorough, truthful and honest. I therefore enjoin all present to please cooperate with the Committee to find answer to this question.