The House of Representatives has invited the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), the head of service (HOS), director-general of Budget Office, accountant-general of the Federation and auditor-general of the Federation to explain why the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has not been audited since its establishment in 1993.
The public accounts committee of the House of Representatives gave the invitation at the ongoing investigative hearing into the activities of ministries, department and agencies (MDAs), following queries by the Office of the auditor- general on dwindling revenue into the Federation Account.
Oluwole Oke, chairman of the committee, said it was gross misconduct for the commission not to have rendered its accounts in the 28 years of its existence, against the law of the land.
Aghughu Arhotomhenla, the auditor-general of the Federation, represented at the hearing by Maryam Ibrahim, said there was no information in respect to their audit accounts.
According to the auditor-general, “external auditors are supposed to audit the commission and then we have records of their audited accounts. But we do not have any record of this agency.”
Ekpo Nta, acting chairman of the commission, who resumed office in August 2019, told the lawmakers that the failure of auditing the commission’s account was due to a shortage of staff and funding.
Nta said all the auditing needs of the commission have always been incorporated in the auditor- general’s final report which is presented to parliament, adding that both the accountant-general and auditor-general post their staff to the commission.
“Incidentally the commission is audited 100 percent by the office of the auditor-general and that of the Budget Office in collaboration with the accountant general’s Office and the audit department of the Office of the SGF. We do not have external auditors. As a matter of fact, they used to post staff to our audit to head the place until 2018. So all our rendition and processes are domiciled with the Office of the auditor-general of the Federation,” Nta said.
But members of the committee vowed not to abandon such an important function of rendition of account, saying without it the auditor-general cannot even raise queries on the transactions of this agency.
Oke, chairman of the committee said the law authorises the auditor-general to conduct periodic checks on the books of the commission because it lacks the power to audit it, but it was the commission’s duty to appoint an external auditor.
“This is a very serious issue. If this agency has been mismanaged since 1993 it has come to an end today. So what we do is to invite the SGF, HOS, director-general, Budget, accountant- general of the Federation and auditor-general and the chairman to come and explain what the law says about the organisation,” he said.
“The commission’s Act is an establishment of the parliament and section 9 subsection 2 of the Act provides that the commission shall keep proper accounts of its information in respect of which year and proper records in relation thereto and shall cause its accounts to be audited not later than six months after the end of each year by auditors appointed from the list of auditors, not by the auditor-general himself,” Oke pointed out.