Monday, August 3, 2015

Corruption : Buhari descends on civil servants

ABUJA— Disturbed by the rot and thriving corruption in the civil service, which has cost the country trillions of naira, President Muhammadu Buhari has taken his anti-graft war to the sector.

He has ordered that all outstanding audit queries which had piled up over the years be resolved within the next 30 days.

Confirming the presidential directive, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the unanswered audit queries sounded unsavoury to the President who, on hearing it, expressed his displeasure.

An audit query is the request for an explanation by the Auditor-General of the Federation over improprieties discovered in the Accountant-General of the Federation’s report. The report is done quarterly.

By law (Civil Services Re-organization Decree No. 43 of 1988), the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation supervises the accounts of federal

and extra-ministerial department; collates, presents and publishes statutory financial statements of account required by the Minister of Finance; conducts routine and in-depth inspection of the books of accounts of federal ministries and extra-ministerial department to ensure compliance with rules, regulations, policies, and internal audit guides; investigates cases of fraud, loss of funds, assets and store items and other financial malpractices in ministries/extra-ministerial department; ensures revenue monitoring and accounting; provides a system for the monitoring of the accounts of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and ensures timely submission of all financial statements to the Auditor-General of the Federation.

If the Auditor-General is dissatisfied with the reports, he issues queries. Audit queries are also used to check fraud as the ‘ghost workers’ phenomenon.

Over time, an avalanche of these queries have not been answered, a development that has created a huge tunnel for graft through unaccounted expenditures, misappropriation and miscalculation of funds running into trillions of naira. The measure is used to check unspent budgets, which are expected to be returned to the treasury.

Following the disappointing manner the queries were handled, President Buhari directed  that any civil servant who failed to answer audit queries within 24 hours, henceforth, would face a disciplinary action.

These are part of the marching orders Buhari gave the Auditor-General of the Federation, Vanguard gathered.

The orders followed the discovery of a plethora of unanswered audit queries which spanned a long period of time, running into years, under previous administrations.

Era of impunity is gone

Garba Shehu stated that President Buhari was irrevocably committed to tackling administrative and bureaucratic corruption head-on.

He said: “The era of impunity is gone. The President is taking the war on corruption to the civil service. He is not happy that standard operating procedures and financial regulations are no longer being observed as they should.

“President Buhari will ensure that public officials and civil servants in the service of the Federal Government pay a heavy price from now on for violating financial regulations or disregarding audit queries.”

He added that the President was determined to put an end to the present situation in which, rather than respond to legitimate audit queries, violators of financial regulations in the Federal. Government resort to threatening, bribing or mounting other forms of social pressures on auditors.

“On his watch, President Buhari wants to see firm action against those who violate extant financial regulations, not the prevarications and shenanigans that went on in the past in the form of endless probes and public inquiries,” the Presidential spokesman said.


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