The House of Representatives on Monday told President Bola Tinubu that the country can not afford to have a director or any official with whatever designation, acting as Auditor-General of the Federation, considering the importance of the office.
Speaker Abbas Tajudeen stated this at the unveiling of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the 10th House in Abuja where he urged the President to confirm the person acting or appoint anyone to the office.
A director, Andrew Ogochukwu Onwudili has been overseeing the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation since September 2022, with calls from several quarters for him or another person to be appointed substantively to no avail.
Speaker Abbas, represented by his deputy, Benjamin Kalu, said the appointment of Auditor-General of the Federation should be in place because it is a requirement of the Constitution.
“I am joining my voice to that of my brother, the chairman of PAC, we cannot afford to have an acting director or whatever nomenclature occupying that important position of Auditor General.
“We urge Mr President to look into confirming the person who is there or anybody of his choice to take up the role of Auditor-General of this country, it will send the right signal that this government is ready to pursue taxes,” he said.
Kalu also said at least, one percent of the total budget of the federation should be allocated to the Office of Auditor-General, stressing that, that is what the office needs if it must do its job and “do it very well.”
“We are committed as people with the power of the purse to review the budget of the Auditor General Office, unless we don’t want the about 900 MDAs to be well over-sighted,” he emphasised.
Kalu also maintained that the House would not accept the gift of a bus from the OAGF as requested by the Chairman of PAC, Hon. Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) for the Committee’s oversight functions.
“Let me mention that I heard the chairman’s request that the office of the accountant general make provision for a bus that will help the committee do their job.
“We want to maintain that in the spirit of doctrine of separation of powers and in need to be thorough in the exercise of our duty, investigating the work done by the Auditor General, we will not be accepting that gift,” he said.
Kalu urged PAC to intensify effort towards auditing more government agencies to curb leakages and ensure that ministries, departments as well as agencies uphold the principles of accountability, transparency and prudence in the management of public funds.
In his remarks, PAC Chairman, Salam (PDP, Osun) said the Committee is ready to hit the ground running with the vision to deliver on its mandate as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
He said the mission is to ensure the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government are able to utilise appropriately the funds available in their coffers.
On his part, the acting Auditor-General, Onwudili called on the 10th House to match its legislative agenda with financial oversight, scrutiny and accountability.
“I have no doubt in my mind that you will match the legislative agenda of the 10th Assembly with financial oversight, scrutiny and accountability which the Public Accounts Committee stands for,” he said.
Earlier, the coordinator of a civil society, the Africa Development Study Center, Amb. Victor Walsh
expressed willingness to support PAC in redefining the fiscal responsibility policy in order to curb corruption and promote transparency and accountability for good governance.