Federal Audit Reports: Senate okays Bill on implementation and enforcement

Sharon EboesomiMay 4, 20236 min

The Federal Audit Report Implementation and Enforcement Bill, 2023 is aimed at setting up a legal framework for the strict implementation and enforcement of timely decisions reached by the National Assembly on audit reports of the Auditor-General of the Federation made on national annual financial dealings.

 

 

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 “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed investigation into – any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for.”

– Section 88, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

 

The Senate has commenced moves to establish a Tribunal on Wednesday for the strict implementation of the Audit reports approved by both chambers of the National Assembly.

This is coming on the heels of a piece of legislation titled ‘Bill for an Act to provide for strict implementation of the National Assembly recommendations on Annual Federal Audit Reports and for related matters 2023 sponsored by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts. 

In his lead debate, Senator Urhoghide said the proposed legislation that the Red Chamber considered and passed for second reading. was a huge necessity if the war against corruption would be potent, advocating that conclusions and recommendations contained in the audit report must be strictly followed or enforced.

“It is not enough for the National Assembly as provided for in section 88 of the 1999 constitution to expose corruption through required investigation but go further, to ensure strict implementation of resolutions made,” he said.

Speaking further, the Senate Public Accounts Committee Chairman explained: “This Bill is an important bedrock for harnessing our nation’s economy and fighting corruption, especially in the lean years when our nation is borrowing heavily to fund national projects; and when great prudence is required to ensure that funds appropriated for projects and other services are spent for the purpose budgeted for.

Today, every Nigerian is interested in knowing that Government’s funds are spent for the purpose of approval and with due respect for efficiency, economy and effectiveness of public service delivery. The Auditor-General of the Federation and his team spend enormous time to audit the Account of the Federation and make recommendations which over the years have been ignored to the perils of all of us.

The goal of this bill therefore is to ensure that a legal framework exists for the strict implementation and enforcement of the National Assembly timely decisions reached on audit reports of the Auditor General made on national annual financial dealings.”

 

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“This is to ensure that a level of seriousness is accorded to the audit process while violations are swiftly sanctioned within specified timelines. The Bill will ensure that national audits are not an exercise in futility, and it will be a role call for erring MDAs to understand that audit infractions can attract speedy and painful consequences. These success stories will be valuable crowns on the National Assembly and on the head of the Auditor-General, making him a champion in the war against corruption. 

Without the stamp of strict implementation and enforcement of a timeline urgently imposed by this bill, audit report implementations will continue to remain difficult to enforce n matter the thoroughness or efficiency w we continue to invest on the exercise. Mr President and my colleagues, I seek your support to truly empower the office of the Auditor General of the Federation of Nigeria to continue doing a good job on his constitutional mandate of ensuring transparency and accountability in the use and review of government’s financial transactions.

The Federal Audit Report Implementation and Enforcement Bill, 2023 is a win-win for the Government and people of Nigeria when enacted into law,” the Edo lawmaker argued.


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In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, stated that it is imperative to address the issue of the National Assembly’s resolutions on yearly audit reports not being strictly implemented, stressing an urgent need to revisit Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) against the powers of investigation and not prosecuting was not enough.

“The proposed legislation is very necessary. Something in the mode of a Tribunal is needed for the strict implementation of recommendations in the form of prosecution of offenders. Public hearing on this bill must be thoroughly conducted on how the Tribunal would be put in place as a potent way of fighting corruption,” he said.

“And so, there must be implementation to the report, and I want to urge the executive and particularly Mr President, that when this bill is passed, it should assent to it, because this is one bill that, when it becomes law, it will help in fighting corruption.

Section 88 of the 1999 constitution gives us only power to investigate, expose corruption, inefficiency and waste, and that is where we can stop as far as the constitution gives us power. And so we need to have further provision to make it impossible to ignore when we expose corruption,” he added.

The Bill was subsequently referred to the Committee on Public Accounts for further legislative action to report within two weeks.

 

Sharon Eboesomi

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