By Chioma Iruke
Nigeria’s Auditor General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, on Wednesday said unsubstantiated balances amounting to N4.973trillion was observed in the audit carried out on consolidated financial statement of the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2019.
This is even as he lamented that his office is incapacitated in so many ways from functioning effectively and efficiently as far as detection of mismanagement of public funds by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) is concerned and invariably, stands against war against corruption.
Submitting the 2019 audit report to the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Ojo Amos Olatunde, the Auditor General said: “From the audit carried out on the 2019 Federal Government Consolidated Financial Statement, unsubstantiated balances amounting to N4.973trillion were observed.
“The N4.973trillion unsubstantiated balances are above the materiality level of N89.34billion set for the Audit.”
In auditing, materiality means not just a quantified amount, but the effect that amount will have in various contexts. During the auditing planning process, the auditor decides what the level of materiality will be, taking into account the entirety of the financial statements to be audited.
Consequently as submitted by the Auditor – General, required queries were issued against agencies found to be involved in the infractions.
He told the CNA who was represented by his Deputy ,Barrister Bala Yabani, that auditing of consolidated financial statement of the federal government on yearly basis, will be expeditiously carried out as made available by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation .
“You will recall that on the 25th of March this year, audit of Consolidated Financial Statement of the Federal Government for the 2018 was submitted to this office for the required investigation of queries raised in it by the National Assembly.
“Just five months after, we are here again to make submission of the 2019 audit report,” he said.
He however lamented that his office is not working the way it should, due to myriad of factors crippling its operations and invariably giving room for all forms of financial infractions across the various MDAs.
“One of such problems is the absence of Federal Audit Service Law which is a big challenge as far as effective and efficient public sector auditing are concerned.
“This is a law that is needed as basis of fiscal sustainability. Absence of it at the federal level is very worrisome going by the fact that some of the states of the federation have the required law in place.
“Another problem incapacitating optimal functionality of our mandate as far as thorough and appropriate auditing of financial statements of the MDAs are concerned, is gross underfunding which is telling much on our efficiency.
“For example, the office is understaffed but there is no money for recruitment.
“Imagine many of our state offices, having just two or three staff. Auditing is done by a team not by an individual.
“Accommodation is also part of the problem, as our staff in Lagos are about to be evicted from their office due to litigations.
“These are aside problem of insecurity, seriously affecting our scope of coverage,” he said.