Budget Padding: “Audit Constituency Projects Allocations” – Pro-Democracy Group

A pro-democracy body, the Civil Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has called for an independent audit of all previous constituency project allocations to members of the National Assembly (NASS) to determine to make sure spending practices are held accountable to the Nigerian people. The statement was made in a press released signed by Auwal Musa Ibrahim, CISLAC’s Executive Director.

 

According to the statement, the recent revelations by the former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee for the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, amounts to a further proof of the waste that has characterized the federal legislature over the years.

 

“We note that such practices have been going on for a long time as the NASS has been known, in the past to, in addition to padding the budget at the point of defence, make dubious allocations for constituency projects as well as have demanded and received inducement for sectoral allocations,” CISLAC said.

 

CISLAC added that federal legislators are known to have received or demanded gratifications in exchange for ministerial confirmation and extorted money from Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) under the guise of oversight functions, stating that the current scandal endangers the integrity of the National Assembly.

 

“The reference to occupants as Honourable and Distinguished is gradually becoming a mere appellation that is stripped of the attendant respect,” CISLAC noted.

 

It expressed disappointment at the revelations and allegations made by Mr. Jibrin, describing them as an afterthought and provoked by the fact that he has lost out from benefiting from the process.

 

CISLAC noted that Mr. Jibrin strongly defended the House when the allegations of budget padding were first made. This, they added, places a big question mark on his credibility and loyalty to the Nigerian people.

 

The pro-democracy body said it finds the culture of constituency projects needless, arguing that it is at variance with the principle of separation of powers. CISLAC further argued that the practice of constituency projects is a channel for legislative corruption and distraction, which are avoidable by simply strengthening relevant institutions and systems for project implementation and service delivery.

 

CISLAC also requested the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to undertake further inquest into the allegations, with a view to getting to the root of the matter and punish culprits where necessary. It expressed doubts that the National Assembly can find the moral courage to investigate itself and sanction erring members.

 

To forestall a repeat of such financial scandals in the federal legislature, CISLAC recommended the introduction of a framework for constituency accountability for public participation and cooperation with the executive arm to establish a participatory budgetary process based on actual needs assessment and citizens’ input.

 

“We call on political parties to reorganize and commence a process for leadership recruitment and internal party democracy that will facilitate the emergence of persons with integrity, patriotism and a mind-set of service, who will be adequately prepared to occupy leadership positions and lead Nigeria to meet the aspirations of her people and occupy her place among the comity of nations,” the body said.

 

The body recalled that despite repeated promises and commitments by Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is the Chairman of the National Assembly, to disclose the details of the budget of the legislature, Nigerians are yet to have access to this information.

 

“We find it ironic that elected representatives are unwilling to make information on how funds appropriated from tax payers’ money are allocated and spent, are made available to the citizens who elected them into office.

 

“We note that these events are a product of failed recruitment process and flawed party processes that have resulted in the emergence of leaders who are unprepared to undertake the challenging art of governance in a diverse environment,” it submitted.

 

CISLAC lamented that fraudulent occurrences in the budget processes have been made possible by the country’s abandonment of the practice of developing viable plans to underpin the budget process and the zero-budget approach. It also blamed the situation on the ineffectiveness of the Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) process envisaged under the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. This, it noted, has created avenues for corrupt practices.

 

“We call on the National Assembly to take advantage of this latest revelation to undertake self-introspection and urgently rise up to cleanse itself and make efforts to redeem its image and reputation which is presently in its lowest ebb.

 

“We also call on them to revisit the issue of having members adhere to the Code of Conduct for members as a means of self-regulation of behaviour within their ranks,” CISLAC concluded.

Buhari appoints PwC, KPMG to audit NNPC, CBN, FIRS, others

The Federal Government has appointed renowned accounting and auditing firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) to audit Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other agencies.

 

This came after the National Economic Council’s ad-hoc committee on the management of the Excess Crude Account proceeds and accruals into the Federation Account on Thursday said it had hired two firms, the KPMG and the PriceWaterHouseCooper, to audit the accounts of all Federal Government’s revenue-earning agencies.

 

Also to be audited are Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

 

 

 

Others are Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Revenue and Mobilisation Allocation Federation Commission (RMAFC) Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) among others.

 

 

 

 

 

Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) had accused the Goodluck Jonathan led-administration of undermining previous audit of the agencies.

 

 

 

Hence, there has been tension in many of the agencies marked for investigation of corrupt practices.

 

 

 

Those still in office as well as former staff, including retired or sacked workers, are monitoring developments and anxious of contents of the audit report, it was leant.

 

 

 

Edo State Governor, the chairman of the National Executive Council-backed committee set up to investigate NNPC financial accounts had disclosed that the audit of affected agencies would cover the period between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2015.

 

Missing $20bn: I Did Not Hire PWC For The Audit, Says Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has distanced herself from the audit firm, PriceWatersHouseCoopers, saying she should not be held responsible for its hiring to probe Nigeria’s alleged missing oil money, days after a widely-discredited report by PwC was released.

As finance minister and coordinator of the economy, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala played a leading role in 2014 when PwC as hired, as the government tried to counter an allegation that $20 billion oil money had been stolen. Former Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, who made the claim, accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC of diverting the money.

After efforts by the government and the Senate to reconcile the sum yielded no tangible results, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala recommended an independent forensic audit. She later announced the hiring of PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

The report containing the outcome of PwC’s investigation, was released Monday several months after the firm completed its assignment. PriceWaterHouseCoopers however said the work should not be relied upon, as it failed to meet international standards. In an unusual statement Thursday, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala sought to steer clear of the audit firm, although she said her response followed a lawsuit blaming her for the hiring.

A statement released by Paul Nwabuikwu, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s spoksperson, said the minister was responding to a lawsuit filed by a group of three accounting firms before a Lagos High Court, accusing Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala of violating federal local content law by appointing PwC.

The statement was issued before the minister received a formal notification of a suit, a rather unusual and prompt response seen as an attempt by Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala to comment on the PwC case. “The CME is astonished by the news of the said court action which is spurious in the extreme,” spokesperson Mr. Nwabuikwu said. “It is shocking that professionals of the calibre of the SIAO Partners can embark on this kind of legal action without taking the trouble to do the minimum amount of homework to confirm basic facts.” The statement said “Okonjo-Iweala did not appoint the PWC to carry out the audit”. The minister called on those behind the suit to immediately drop it or face her in court.

Creditpremiumtimesng

Missing $20billion: Our Audit Report Not Reliable- PricewaterhouseCoopers

The much anticipated report of the forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, operations on the missing $20 billion oil money may not amount to much after all, with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the audit firm that conducted the probe, saying it cannot vouch for the integrity of its findings.

In a startling introductory letter addressed to Nigeria’s Auditor General, the audit firm said findings in its 199-page report were limited to available information and did not constitute a review in accordance with generally accepted standards.

“The procedures we performed did not constitute an examination or a review in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards or attestation standards,” the firm said.

“Accordingly, we provide no opinion, attestation or other form of assurance with respect to our work or the information upon which our work was based,” it added.

The report and all accompanying deliverables, the company pointed out, were “solely for the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, for their internal use and benefit and not intended to, nor may they be relied upon, by any other third party.

The firm concluded that the NNPC should refund to the government a minimum of $1.48 billion of missing oil funds, a figure many Nigerians believe is smaller than the likely actual figure.

The report however gave no strong and independent opinion of its findings despite saying the investigation was carried out using forensic techniques.

The firm instead listed a series of potential factors that could render its findings implausible, saying it had no access to the full account of some relevant agencies like NPDC, the upstream petroleum industry subsidiary of the NNPC.

The firm said where it lacked data, it turned to details of earlier investigations carried out by the Nigerian Senate, which all but cleared the NNPC, and the petroleum ministry of any wrongdoing.

“We did not obtain any information directly from NPDC, but in accordance with NPDC former Managing Director’s (Mr Briggs Victor) submission to the Senate Committee hearing on the subject matter, for the period, NPDC generated $5.11billion (net of royalties and petroleum profits tax paid),” the firm said.

Read Morepremiumtimesng

Unhappy Jonathan Demands N2tr Election Funds Audit & Refund, Sets Up 5-Man Commitee

Following the defeat suffered by President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, during the March 28 and April 11 elections, the President has asked the party and government officials, who handled campaign funds, to refund unspent monies, or those not judiciously expended, SUNDAY PUNCH can authoritatively report.

Jonathan, credible sources said, has also set up a committee of five to get those with the funds to return them.

Sources within the party and the government told our correspondents that Jonathan was disturbed that despite giving campaign coordinators, ministers, special advisers, close aides and friends, support groups and traditional rulers over N2tr in cash, most of them could not deliver their polling booths and local governments.

The President was said to have been further irked by the results of an investigation he ordered.

The probe showed that some coordinators used campaign funds to buy very expensive properties, especially in Abuja, and luxury cars.

Some of the funds have also been traced to the bank accounts of senior party and government officials, who were charged with the disbursement of funds to voters and groups.

A reliable source in the Presidency told our correspondents that one of the President’s men, who recently admitted to a few close aides that it would be difficult to retrieve all the funds, was bent on getting senior party and government officials, who received funds to account for all monies collected.

The source, who is a close associate of the President, said monies given to traditional rulers in different parts of the country, for example, would not be demanded, but added that the President was determined to get his ministers, close aides and special advisers to make refunds.

He said, “Some ministers did not get less than N20bn each. None of them can deny it because this fact isn’t hidden within government circles. The only problem with such monies is that there is no receipt to show that they collected money. The sad part is that almost all of them performed woefully. Even in the states where the PDP won, some ministers could not deliver 100,000 votes. They could not mobilise their people to come out.

“The President is not happy. They all went on property and car-shopping. This was the most expensive election in the history of this country, yet there was no result.

“The sad part was that even after the President lost on March 28, more money was given to all of them to make up for the dismal outing by winning their states during the April 11 elections. But that turned out to be a bad decision because apart from losing the governorship election, we didn’t perform well in the other elections.

“They must give an account of the money since they didn’t use it for the election. The President is not particular about the funds spent on genuine campaign needs like the hiring of jets, advertisements and the rest that also cost billions of naira. His focus is on the individuals that collected billions to deliver their states but couldn’t even win their polling booths.”

Read More: punchng

Why We Won’t Publish Missing $20M Audit- FG

The Nigerian government has finally opened up on why it has refused to disclose the full findings of investigations into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money, several months after a forensic examination had been concluded by an independent firm.

The audit report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, accused of diverting the money, has been ready since September 2014, but the government has declined repeated demands to make the document public.

Amid pressure from the public and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, the government early February issued a “highlight” of the report, with a conclusion that the alleged missing $20 billion, exposed by a former Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, was a farce.

In an interview with the Financial Times of London, published Monday, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said the government could not publish the report ahead of elections as only the country’s Auditor General has the powers to do so.

Even more important, the minister said the government was not making the report public to avoid a “rabid opposition”- a reference to the APC – from finding “all sorts of minute detail [in the full report] to create concern”.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Sanusi’s Claims Were Incorrect- Auditor General

The Federal Government ordered forensic audit on the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has indicted the national oil company for various questionable transactions.

Highlights of the recommendations by the audit firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, PwC Nigeria, which conducted the audit, asked the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, the upstream subsidiary of the NNPC, to refund a total of $1.48billion (about N248.6billion) to the Federation Account for various unreconciled transactions.

The Auditor General of the Federation, AuGF, Samuel Ukura, who said he was presenting the highlights of the report at the request of President Goodluck Jonathan, pointed out that it was not his responsibility to present such audit reports to arms of government other than the National Assembly in line with the Constitution.

Read MorePremium Times

Jonathan Receives Forensic Audit on NNPC

President Goodluck Jonathan has received the Forensic Audit report on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

He said that the report would help to address the lapses in the oil industry and help the administration to address misconceptions in the industry. “The figures being branded in the newspapers are ones that Nigerians will be interested in.

“Indeed, you mentioned the issue of the reforms in the sector. Everybody knows that the sector needs to be reformed and I believe that by the time we go through the petroleum industry bill and make it a law, most of these lapses would be corrected and the misconceptions will be properly addressed by the different administrative structures.

“I thank you for what you have done. It will help us, it will help this country to set things right. We will handle it decisively based on the information that we have…”

Credit: NAN