The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has resolved to publish audit queries issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation against some Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in national dailies over the latter’s alleged refusal to account for funds allocated to them in the budget.
Miffed by the failure of the heads of the MDAs to respond to its invitations, the committee has threatened to report the erring officials to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.
The Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, issued the threats at the investigative hearing held on Friday, following the absence of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and all its 17 subsidiaries, after several invitations issued to them.
Oke stated that the committee had resolved to extract the queries raised against the defaulting MDAs and publish them in the newspapers, for the President and the general public to see how taxpayers’ funds had been mismanaged.
The chairman said the committee was tired of summoning the concerned MDAs and their heads, saying the Clerk to the Committee had been directed to compile the list of the defaulting agencies which would be forwarded to the Presidency, the SGF and the AGF.
According to the committee, other defaulting MDAs, apart from the NNPC and its subsidiaries, are the National Insurance Commission, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Federal Inland Revenue Services, Federal Ministry of Health, among others.
Oke said, “The committee decided to extract and publish such audit queries in the national dailies for the public to see the truth for themselves. We are not the authors of the queries but the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
“Rather than appear before the committee and speak to the facts, they will stay away and issue counter-press statements to blackmail the parliament.
“The committee is not out to witch hunt any individual or any organisation. For instance, the Office of the Auditor General (of the Federation) queried an agency for spending a whopping sum of N45m within a week for a room in a hotel in Abuja. We invited the management of the hotel; they appeared before the committee, gave us vital information. And we invited the management of the concerned agency several times but have refused to show up for their defence till today.”
He added, “We have many of such cases. What we are saying is that they should come and defend themselves. And as a parliament, we cannot continue to wait for them. We are giving them the last chance to show up after we must have reported them to their employer, who is Mr President; published their names and the queries raised against them in the national dailies.
“Then we will have no option but to use our constitutional power to get them and be brought here to face the law. But we believe that by reporting them to their employer, they will be forced to show up before ordering their arrest. No amount of blackmail will stop us from doing our job. Enough is enough!”