Senate Mandates Auditor-General To Probe Finance Ministry’s Service Wide Vote

– Describes It As Biggest Fraud In Nigeria As N758bn Gets Allocated For 2021

The Senate has mandated the Auditor-General of Federation to probe the Service Wide Vote (SWV), described as the biggest fraud in the country.

Only this year alone, the federal government allocated N758 billion for service wide vote, a contingency fund in the national budget under the control of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, which made this observation during the confirmation hearing of Acting Auditor-General of Federation, Aghughu Adolphus, added that the fund was the biggest fraud because it is not audited.

The Chairman of Committee, Senator Matthew Uhroghide (PDP, Edo), 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 lawmaker, however, charged Mr Aghughu to brief the panel on how he would audit the fund, adding, “you should tell us how are you going to audit this service Wide Votes.”

The Acting Auditor General of Federation told the lawmakers that he lacks constitutional power to audit Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other big spenders among the government agencies, adding, “for the big spender, it is the Constitution that has issue. By virtue of 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, who explained the position of the agency, assured the lawmakers of looking at the issue of non -Auditing of Service Wide votes.

Speaking on the challenges of the Office, he said the workers of the agency are working under tedious condition as there is no enough staff in Auditor General to carry out task of the agency.

He added that in some states, the agency has only three staff available and as result of this most of the works are not carried out by the office.

The Nominee solicited for the full autonomy of the office of the Auditor General of the Federation so that it can able to carry out its task effectively.

He lamented that lack of fund halted efforts of the agency to acquire some software that will aid their work because it was struck out of the budget, adding that the agency is currently discussing with some donor agencies in order to acquire the software.

Some of the Senators who spoke during the screen excercise expressed dissatisfaction with the poor funding of the Office of Auditor General of the Federation which is meant to tackle corruption .

According to the Chairman of the Committee, the Office of Auditor General has been designed to fail because there is no availability fund to carry out their task.