WORKERS from 20 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Nigerian Federal Government received irregular payments and unapproved allowances amounting to N132.5 billion in 2019.
The development was disclosed in the 2019 audit report issued by the Auditor General of the Federation.
Irregular payments/unapproved allocation payments were among the cross-cutting non-compliance issues that were identified in at least four MDAs covered by the audit.
The payment of unapproved and improper allowances to staff violated paragraph 415 of the federal government’s financial regulations requiring all officials responsible for expenditures to exercise caution.
“Money shall not be spent simply because it has been voted,” states paragraph 415 of the Financial Regulations.
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However, the audit revealed that irregular payments/unapproved allowances totaling approximately N132.5 billion were made to 20 MDA staff in flagrant disregard of financial regulations.
Nigeria’s Security Printing and Minting Plc was the biggest offender, paying around N97.9 billion in severance and irregular payments to its workers.
The National Commission for Colleges of Education in Abuja paid 2.8 million naira in compensation and irregular payments to its workers – the lowest amount among the 20 MDAs involved in the breach.
Other agencies implicated in the breach include: the National Hajj Commission and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
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The audit report also highlights the misuse and embezzlement of public funds by several MDAs.
Specifically, the audit indicates that 10 MDAs misappropriated or misused a total sum of N18.1 billion.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development embezzled/misused the sum of N11.5 billion – the highest amount recorded among the 10 MDAs found to have mismanaged public funds.
The Public Complaints Commission misappropriated/misapplied the lower amount – N1.8 million.
The audit also observed cases of extrabudgetary expenditures/transfers without approval in MDAs.
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Section 80(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) states that “No money shall be taken out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation except from the manner prescribed by the National Assembly. .”
In addition, paragraph 417 of the Financial Regulations stipulates that expenditures must be classified strictly in accordance with the estimates and that appropriations must be applied only for the purposes for which the funds are provided.
The Regulations state that “expenditures wrongly charged to an appropriation will be disallowed”.
But in violation of constitutional and regulatory provisions, nine MDAs spent N49.5 billion without approval in 2019.
The 49.5 billion naira was not budgeted and the transfer for disbursement of funds was not approved.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recorded the highest amount of off-budget expenditures/transfers without approval at N48.4 billion.
The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Abuja has the least extra-budgetary expenditure – N1.6 million.
The 2019 audit report further observes that five MDAs paid the sum of N6.2 billion for unperformed contracts/services.
The Nigerian Ports Authority paid the highest amount for unperformed contracts/services – N4.5 billion.
Federal Treasury Circular Ref. N°: TRY/A12 & B12/2013, dated November 19, 2013, made it mandatory to pay back unspent balances to the Treasury on December 31.
However, the audit revealed that four MDAs flouted the circular by failing to return to the Treasury unspent balances on capital votes amounting to N6.1 billion.
The Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority, Owerri, failed to return unspent balances of N2.5 billion to the Treasury while the Veterinary Council of Nigeria, Maitama, Abuja, failed to return returned the sum of 36.1 million naira.
The audit also revealed that 18 MDAs awarded irregular contracts worth N4.4 billion.
Irregular contracts were awarded without following due process.
Of the 18 MDAs involved in the practice, Nigeria Police Headquarters recorded the highest amount spent on irregular contracts at N1.1 billion.
The audit also revealed that five MDAs paid the sum of N227 million as professional fees to external lawyers who were engaged without the approval of the Attorney General of the federation.
Establishment circular Ref. no: SGF/PS/CIR/625/I/1 of July 16, 2003 requires that the prior consent and approval of the Attorney General of the Federation be obtained before the engagement of external notaries and lawyers by MDAs and payment of professional fees. charges for these services.
Nigeria’s Security Printing and Minting Plc paid the sum of N112.3 million to outside lawyers who were hired without due process – the highest amount spent on the illegal activity.
* Audit report contradicts Buhari’s claims on anti-corruption war
Findings from the 2019 audit indicate that corruption is still thriving in Nigerian government institutions, despite claims to the contrary by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had, in a message to Nigerians to mark the New Year on January 1, said his administration was winning the war on corruption.
He said, “We have given the highest priority to the fight against corruption and other related offenses which have been a scourge on the growth and prosperity of our dear nation.
“We have made major strides and breakthroughs through the innovative use of technology and forensics in investigative and prosecutorial proceedings with commendable results to show that our administration’s anti-corruption campaign is succeeding.”
Buhari also claimed that the “achievements” recorded in the war on corruption could be attributed to the support his administration had given to anti-corruption agencies.