The House of Representatives said on Sunday that the Federal Government?s yearly expenditure was ?over N20tn,? contrary to the N4.6tn (2014) or N4.3tn (2015) disclosed to Nigerians as the country?s annual public budget.
The president had on the 23rd of February 2015, made the remarks putting the Annual budget at between N4.3 trillion and N4.9 trillion yearly. This he did while defending the allegation by the Former CBN Governor, Charles Soludo that N30 trillion had either been mismanaged or missing.
Its Public Accounts Committee, which made the disclosure in Abuja, noted that, an ongoing examination of the finances of government and its 601 agencies showed that the N4.3tn given as the total spending budget for this year was a ?far cry? from the reality.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Adeola Solomon-Olamilekan, who spoke on the issue, explained that, unknown to Nigerians, the N4.3tn, for example, did not include the expenditure of many ?statutory and extra-ministerial departments? of government.
He added that his committee found out that these other agencies not captured in the regular budget, generated and spent their money as it pleased them without seeking the approval of the National Assembly.
The lawmaker put the budget of these other bodies at over N16tn.
Solomon-Olamilekan explained further, ?The N4.9tn, N4.6tn or N4.3tn, as the case may be, is the budget that the whole Nigerians are listening to but in the true sense of it, the budget of other statutory and extra-ministerial departments put together is about N16tn.
?So, the total overall budget year in year out is over N20tn, which the executive arm operates, but nobody is asking questions as to the implementation of all these budgets.
?Nobody is bringing information on the implementation of all these budgets; and this is one area Nigerians need to start asking questions in order to move this country forward.?
Solomon-Olamilekan stated that though the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, made adequate provisions on how these bodies should be held accountable, the law was observed in breach.
He cited the ?stifling? of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation as one of the ways to shield government agencies from opening their books to scrutiny.
Solomon-Olamilekan said this was done by starving the office of funds ?over the years? to a point where it no longer had the financial power to effectively audit the accounts of the implementation agencies of government and its extra-ministerial departments.
For instance, he revealed how the government cut the capital budget of the AGF? office from N1.9bn to a ?meagre? N100m in 2015.
The lawmaker said his committee was at a loss on how the AGF?s office would audit the accounts of 601 agencies with N100m and the country?s 144 foreign missions.
The PAC chairman added, ?How can we imagine that the capital budget of the office of AGF for the year 2015 was reduced from N1.9bn to N100?
?Can you also imagine an office of the AGF that has 144 foreign missions to audit and as we speak, between 1999 to date, that office has not audited up to 30 of these foreign missions while three quarter of these foreign missions are also revenue generating agencies?
?So, there is nobody to audit the revenue generated and the expenditure they incur.
?The office of the AGF has been short-changed and the budget has been reduced to nothing. As such, the government of the day is having a field day to carry out whatever its wants to do because they know they have an office that is not functioning.?
The PAC has also been saddled with the responsibility of retrieving the full report on the audit investigation into the $20bn reportedly ?missing? from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The House had, in plenary on Wednesday last week, given the minister seven days to submit the full report to the lawmakers.
The president had earlier made the remarks putting the Anual budget at between N4.3 trillion and N4.9 trillion yearly, this was as he was trying to oppose an article that had been put forward by the former CB Governor, Charles Soludo. Jonathan had sought to explain widespread impression of his government as being terribly corrupt, saying such allegations are often fed by spurious claims made by notable figures like Mr. Soludo.