Section 85 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) mandates the audit of all public accounts, which include the federation accounts and accounts of all government parastatals. Subsection 2 of the same section empowers the Auditor-General — or any person authorized by him — to have access to all account records of the government.
In accordance with these provisions, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC), in agreement with the Federal Government, conducts forensic audit and gives its expert opinions on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria, yearly.
SaharaReporters scrutinized the 2016 audit report, the most recently available to the public, and highlighted few of the auditor’s discoveries.
N4 trillion unremitted revenue
A whooping sum of N4 trillion was, as of the time of preparing the report, unremitted to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“The total revenue unremitted as at 1st January 2016 from amounts payable into the Federation Account by NNPC was ₦3,878,955,039,855.73 [Three trillion, eight hundred and seventy-eight billion, nine hundred and fifty-five million, thirty-nine thousand and eight hundred and fifty-five naira].
“The sum of N1,198,138,355,860.30 was due in revenue to the Federation Account out of the total generated in 2016, however, NNPC paid the sum of N1,000,545,058,966.2 resulting in an amount withheld of N197,593,296,894.02. This brought the total amount withheld by NNPC from the Federation Account as at 31 December 2016 to N4,076,548,336,749.75.”
This act of under-remitting to the central account has been a year-on-year occurrence, according to the auditor.
Opaque record-keeping by NNPC
NNPC also failed to clearly state exactly the quantity of crude oil lifted or delivered to Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), and Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical company (KRPC).
From the examination of the Demestic Crude Oil Lifting sales profile, a total crude oil lifting of 8,399,027 bbls with a total sales value of $376,655,589.03 (N102, 659,577,632.16) was stated to have been lifted jointly by these two companies.
However, the auditor held that the failure to properly separate these deliveries and charge directly to each company makes it difficult to reconcile and account for each lifting.
Misappropriation of Ecological Fund
The report revealed that funds made available for solving ecological problems in the country were used for other unstated activities not related to purposes for which the fund was set aside.
For instance, over N28 billion, out of the N48,601,928,311.08 meant for development of natural resources, was diverted to other projects. Similarly, the Federal Government “borrowed” from these funds without stating how it intended to pay back.
“We note that the various withdrawals from Funds by the Federal Government are stated to be borrowings. We further observed that the arrangements for the repayment of these funds or borrowings are unclear. For example, the 2017 Budget did not include any appropriations for the repayment of these borrowings.”
N413 million unreturned imprest
At least, 59 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government refused to return a total sum of N413, 449,306.08 back to source.
This is in contravention of the Financial Regulation (2009), which stipulates that “all standing impress must be retired on or before the 31st December of the financial year in which they were issued, while special impress shall be retired immediately the reason for which they were granted cease to exist”.
The auditor also added that no explanation whatsoever was provided for the unretired funds.
Nigeria lost N941 billion in uncollected revenues
The financial document revealed that there was a reduction in revenue collected across government agencies except from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). The total sum of N941, 039, 251, 064 was reported uncollected by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the NNPC.
The report said: “The NNPC revenue fell from N2,442,895,781,050.53 to N1,725,318,486,455.07 a difference of N717,577,294,595.46 representing about 29% decrease, FIRS revenue fell from N2,403,882,419,922.32 in 2015 to N2,320,485,354,727.58 a difference N83,397,065,164.74 representing a marginal 3.4% decrease while that of DPR fell from N608,083,591,121.01 to N468,018,699,815.74 a difference of N140,064,891,305.27 representing 23% decrease.”
Investigation by the audit firm revealed that N50 billion loan was written off the books of National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and to some Federal Government staff, without proper disclosure in the financial statement.
Similarly, some collecting agencies in NNPC and DPR did not remit any revenue into the Federation revenue account for some months, neither was any explanation given why those months recorded no revenue.
Senate Staff Cashed in N747 million
Advance payment of over N747 million given to staff of the Nigerian Senate for procurement in 2016 had not been retired as of June 2017.
Also, some staffers of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing received cash advances to the tune of N26, 369, 523 which was not retired at the end of the financial year. Rather than recover this fund, new cash advances were granted the same officers yet to retire the first cash advance received.
Same practice was reported at the Bureau of Public Service Reform. Fifty-six members of staff received advance cash of various sums, totaling N35, 209, 835 that went unremitted at the end of the financial year.
Withdrawal from the federation account without approval
N409 billion was withdrawn from the federation account to set off external debts owed by states and FCT, without the authorization from the Auditor-General. This contravened Section 168 (1) 0f the constitution that holds that “Where any payment falls to be made under this Part of this Chapter, the amount payable shall be certified by the Auditor-General for the Federation”.
The Accountant-General of the federation was, however, requested to provide explanation for non-compliance with Section 168(1) of the Constitution and ensure that henceforth, no such off-set are made from the Federation Account without the certification of the Auditor-General for the Federation in compliance with the Constitution.