The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the calls by the Senate for sanction of officials in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, who made Nigeria lose $274.2million (N54.1billion) on external loans.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by its Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Debo Adeniran remarked, “It would be recalled that The Upper Chamber approved the report of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts before proceeding on annual vacation last week.
The Senate, in its resolution, asked the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to identify the officers and sanction them for mismanaging public funds, in accordance with Rule 3115 of the Financial Regulations and for gross misconduct.
Rule 3115 of the Financial Regulations reads: “An accounting officer who is queried for his failure to manage or spend public funds, effectively or who spends public money without due regard to economy contrary to Financial Regulation 415 and fails to reply to the query, shall be removed from the schedule and be disciplined in accordance with the Public Service Rules.”
The Auditor-General of Federation’s query titled: “Inconsistent exchange loss difference on external loans” reads: During the examination of Note 51 and Appendix to Note 52, it was observed that there was a total exchange loss difference of $278.2 million (N54.1billion) reported by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation in the document provided but this could not be found in the DMO (Debt Management Office) document.
Also, the criteria for arriving at the exchange loss difference of $274.2 million (N54.1billion) were not disclosed.
The Accountant-General of the Federation in his response maintained that the closing balance is as provided by Debt Management Office (DMO) while the exchange difference of $274.2 million (N54.1bn) was as a result of multiple currencies that were involved and single exchange rate.
The upper chamber, in its resolution after the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, upheld the recommendation of the Committee asking that officials involved in the transaction be sanctioned.
The CACOL Boss opined that “the attitudes of some public officials while managing public funds are suspect and questionable. It is a known fact that some government officials willy-nilly act in ways that are counterproductive to the economy of the country.
The Head of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran, further insists, “Just as been noted elsewhere, in discharging their responsibilities to the people, any governmental official, serving in any ministry, department or agency of government would do well to adhere to international best practices in discharging their responsibilities to and on behalf of the people.
It is our unequivocal position that in the process of obtaining loan for the country, cumbersome additional expenses should not be added to the already excruciating debt burden.
To this end, Officials of government must pay attention to details at all times and be seen Like Caesar’s wife to be above board. It is in this regard that we whole heartedly support Senate’s call for appropriate sanctions to be meted out to the erring officials and anti-graft agencies to fully investigate this humongous loss of tax payer’s money and prosecute the Officials if found wanton to serve as necessary deterrent”.