May 5, 2022

One Year After, House of Representatives Failed to “Pass the Federal Audit Bill currently before the House”

Promise: Quick passage of the Federal Audit Bill currently before the House.

Abiola Durodola
Last Updated
May 5, 2022
min read

In the revised legislative agenda, the Gbajabiamila-led HoR made the promise to ensure the “quick passage of the Federal Audit Bill which is currently before the house.”  In what the legislators termed their “contract” with Nigerians, the HoR made passing the bill part of its immediate legislative priorities. The HoR set June 2020 to May 2021 as the timeline for implementing this action.

The bill if passed is expected to address specific audit issues because of its wider scope as every financial activity and transaction of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will now undergo audits. More importantly, the Federal Audit Bill 2019 if passed will empower the country’s auditor-general to withhold the emoluments of any public official who is indicted in the misappropriation and mismanagement of public funds. Thus, this bill will address the deep-rooted corruption in MDAs.

It is also important to know that the current audit law in the country -Audit Act 1956- is outdated and archaic as it limits the power of the Auditor-General. This has further deepened financial recklessness and mismanagement in the country. In August 2021, Hon. Oluwole Oke, the Chairman of the Public Account Committee of the HoR noted that over 1,033 MDAs in the country have not submitted their audited report to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) for over 10 years. In the report, Hon. Oke also noted that 65 Federal Government Agencies have not been audited since they were established.

Promise: Quick passage of the Federal Audit Bill currently before the House

In January 2022, OAuGF in its 2019 audit report also revealed that over 5.8-billion-naira worth of taxes were not remitted by MDAs while 18 billion naira were misappropriated by MDAs. As mismanagement of funds increases, public concerns have also increased with experts urging that the Audit Bill be passed.

The quick passage was going to be a herculean task for the legislators, especially with the refusal of the president to assent to the bill since January 2019 after it was initially passed by legislators in the 8th Assembly. Subsequently, both Senate and HoR Public Account Committees (PAC) had promised to represent and pass the bill despite the president’s refusal in the 8th Assembly.

In the current legislative year, the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill, 2019 (one of its objectives is to enact the Federal Audit Service Bill) was presented by Hon. Ndudi Elumelu passed the first and second reading in October and November 2019 respectively. The bill has since been referred to the Committee within the house.

While the 9th Assembly of the HoR did reintroduce the Audit Bill, thereby reinstating its commitment to pass the bill into law, the process has been stalled with no recent update from the committee. In Nigeria, corruption and diversion of public funds continue while defaulting public officials escape sanctions and other punitive measures due to the outdated audit law. And the House of Representatives is yet to pass the bill into law despite understanding its importance in the fight against corruption.

We rate this Promise Broken.