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Reps Threaten Govt Agencies Over Funds Unaccountability

Joel Osaigbovo Aluge, Reporting

The House of Representatives has threatened to block the accounts of government agencies that fail to provide their revenue profiles. This move aims to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public funds.

Government agencies are required to submit detailed revenue profiles to allow for proper financial oversight and to prevent mismanagement or misappropriation of funds.

The threat to block accounts serves as a strong measure to enforce compliance and ensure that all agencies adhere to financial reporting requirements.

This development comes alongside the Director of Finance and Account with the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Musa Jemaku, criticizing the office of the Accountant General.

Jemaku rebuked the Accountant General’s office for alleging that the FRC has not paid its operating surplus for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Jemaku’s response indicates a dispute over financial compliance and reporting between these governmental bodies, highlighting ongoing tensions and the need for clearer accountability in managing public funds.

A representative from the Office of the Accountant General, whose name could not be ascertained, claimed that the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) had failed to remit its operating surplus for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Specifically, the representative cited that the FRC owed N126 million for 2019, N143 million for 2020, and N26 million for 2021. Furthermore, the representative noted that the operating surplus for 2021 had not been fully calculated because the FRC had not submitted its audited accounts for that year. This assertion underscores ongoing issues with financial compliance and the timely submission of financial reports among government agencies.

Speaking at the resumed revenue monitoring exercise of the committee on Monday, Vice Chairman of the Committee, Saidu Abdullahi (APC, Niger), expressed displeasure at the refusal of some government agencies to appear before the committee despite being invited.

Abdullahi’s remarks highlight the committee’s frustration with non-compliant agencies, emphasizing the importance of accountability and transparency in government operations.

Abdullahi stated that out of the eight agencies invited to appear before the Committee on Monday, only two—the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and the National Health Insurance Authority—honored the invitation. This low turnout underscores the challenges the committee faces in ensuring compliance and accountability among government agencies.

The lawmaker noted that while two other agencies requested to be given another date, the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, the National Broadcasting Commission, the National Examination Council, and the National Inland Waterways Authority failed to either honor the invitation or communicate with the committee. This lack of response further highlights the issues of non-compliance and communication gaps between the government agencies and the committee.

“We expected eight agencies to appear before the committee today, but only two agencies came, while two others wrote to request another date and they were granted,” Abdullahi said.

“However, four others decided to abscond. That was the same word I used last year that did not go down well with some of the agencies. They have decided to play truancy on an assignment that is very important. If members can turn out in large numbers for this assignment, I don’t see any reason why any agency will decide not to appear before the committee,” Abdullahi said.

“Let me put on record that we hope to have these agencies appear before the committee: Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, National Broadcasting Commission, National Examination Council, and National Inland Waterways Authority,” Abdullahi stated.

“We will not take it lightly with any agency because this is an assignment that is very important to this country. We talk about revenue, and if we cannot collect the revenue accruing to this country, I think there is a big problem,” Abdullahi said.

Jemaku of FRC countered by stating that the agency has paid approximately N800 million to the government this year, contradicting the claim by the AGF that the agency had only paid about N602 million to government coffers. This discrepancy highlights the need for clarity and accurate reporting in financial transactions between government agencies, emphasizing the importance of reconciling figures to ensure transparency and accountability.

Jemaku explained that there is a circular from the office of the Minister of Finance regarding the implementation of the Finance Act 2020. He added that the circular automated the process of paying the 50 percent deduction.

This clarification suggests that there are established procedures in place for handling financial transactions mandated by legislation, aiming to streamline processes and ensure compliance with relevant laws.

Jemaku implied that the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) should be better positioned to address why the system failed to deduct the correct 50 percent for the given period.

This statement suggests that there might have been issues with the implementation or operation of the automated system, emphasizing the need for accountability and transparency in financial processes within government agencies.

“On a lighter note, let me say that this is not the avenue for the AGF to draw our attention to the non-payment of operating surplus when there is no official communication from them to the agency,” he said.

This remark suggests that there should be proper channels of communication and official notifications between government agencies regarding financial matters, rather than addressing them in public forums without prior communication.

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