The Public Accounts Committee of the Green Chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral Legislature has found out that the country is still a big theatre for reckless spending in spite of all the deafening noise by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominance.
According to the House of Representatives’ panel, Nigeria has not been witnessing prudent use of government resources under the APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The president came to power in 2015 with a larger than life image of a progressive messiah.
Before the finding of the Reps’ panel, a renowned economist/a former presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi, had in July 2016 asserted that the reckless spending of Nigeria’s resources was responsible for the country’s economic woes.
Speaking during a programme organised by a group of youths on the platform of YALI Network at the United State Consulate in the Victoria Island, Lagos, Utomi stressed that true leadership required shaping cultures and initiating the right values.
For Utomi, ‘’leaders are not people who tar roads. Any moron can sign a cheque and ask Julius Berger to tar roads. Leadership is about shaping culture so that there is human progress. The kind of value you have as a country determines (your) economic performance. It is the leaders that will initiate those values.
‘’Everything in our country is reduced to politics. The biggest danger to Nigeria is the overrating of politics and government. I can actually prove with case studies that the government is more responsible for preventing progress in Nigeria than for making it happen.
‘’This is not because these men hate Nigeria. A man cannot give what he doesn’t have. They are working hard for the good of this country but systematically preventing good from taking place because of their limitations.’’
The committee said the APC administration could not be differentiated from that of the PDP in terms of prudent use of government funds.
The Committee Chairman, Kingsley Chinda, together with members of the committee said in Abuja, the country’s capital city, on Monday, that federal legislators were currently examining the annual reports by the Auditor-General of the Federation submitted to them.
‘’Generally, what we have observed is that not much has changed from the reckless system that we have operated in Nigeria. Not much has changed. Public spending is still not very responsible and so, we need to begin to change.
‘’One of the problems we have is that our institutions are very weak; institutions are not strengthened; the government is not making deliberate efforts to strengthen institutions and therefore, when you talk about the fight against corruption, you find out that it might not be sustained because the institutions that ought to fight corruption are not strengthened.
‘’One typical example is the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation from where we get our raw materials. The good thing that will happen to the fight against corruption is assent to the Audit Commission Bill. We pray that the assent is not refused as usual’’, the committee chair said.
Listing the discoveries by the committee, Chinda said, ‘’a total of 552 ministries, departments and agencies were queried by the Office of the Auditor-General, covering the period of 2010 to 2014. Of that number, the committee was able to consider 512 of those queries. In the course of that consideration, the committee was also able to, in 2010, recover or map out recovery sum of N1,967,146,030.72.
‘’And then, we also referred to the relevant authorities; that is, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Nigeria Police, a total sum of N72,567,233,846.49 and $1,819,361 for recovery.’’
The Punch reports that answering a question on the Service Wide Vote which had been identified as a drain pipe in the economy, Chinda noted that there were no-go areas in the committee’s activities.
He said: ‘’If we had gone the way you are looking at the Service Wide Vote, I am not sure that we would have achieved what we have achieved today. So, there are areas that deliberately, we refused to go the old way to enable us to achieve what we have achieved’’, lamenting that there is a backlog of Auditor-General’s reports pending before the National Assembly, which he said was not good for the anti-corruption war.
‘’We met a backlog of Auditor-General’s reports on MDAs hanging, it is something. Even when we meet our colleagues from other climes, it is a low-point for this country; it is a low-point for our drive against corruption. And so, we said we must begin to erode that. If that is our only achievement, so be it’’, he said.