The Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday described service wide vote as the biggest fraud in Nigeria.
Service wide vote is contingency fund in the national budget under the control of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
In 2021, the Federal Government allocated N758 billion for service wide vote.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, made this assertion during the screening of the Acting Auditor-General for the Federation, Aghughu Adolphus, for appointment as substantive AuGF.
He said that the Service Wide Vote is fraudulent in the sense that the expenditure is never audited.
Urhoghide said: “Service wide vote is the biggest fraud in Nigeria. It is meant to meet unseen situation, nobody gives account on service wide vote. Standing Committees of the Senate do not know anything about its spending.”
The Edo South lawmaker asked Aghughu to tell the committee how he would audit the fund.
Responding to a question on why the AuGF has often failed to audit big spenders of Government funds like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and others, Aghughu said that the Office of the Auditor General lacked Constitutional power to audit the said agencies.
“For the big spenders, it is the Constitution that has an issue. By virtue of the 1999 Constitution, we will just provide list of what we need for them and they will make their choice, if they decline to give to us, we have no power to compel them,” Aghughu said.
He told the lawmakers his office is already looking into the issue of non-auditing of Service Wide votes.
On the challenges of the Office, he said the workers of the agency were working under tedious condition due to shortage of requisite manpower to carry out duties of the agency.
He added that in some states, the agency has only three staff and as result of this most of the work is not carried out by the office.
He called for the office to be made fully autonomous so that it can be able to carry out its tasks effectively.
He expressed worry over paucity of fund which do militated against the agency’s efforts to acquire some software that will aid its work.
He however said that the agency is currently discussing with some donor agencies to acquire the required software.
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