President Muhammadu Buhari has taken his anti-graft war to the federal civil service. He ordered recently that all outstanding audit queries which had piled up over the years be resolved within the next 30 days. The president ordered that disciplinary actions would be visited on any official that fail to answer audit query within 24 hours.
Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, said the President expressed displeasure over the manner the issue was being treated with levity and the unaccounted expenses it encouraged.
Shehu said that the era of impunity is gone. “The President is taking the war on corruption to the civil service. He is not happy that standard operating procedures and financial regulations are no longer being observed as they should.
“President Buhari will ensure that public officials and civil servants in the service of the Federal Government pay a heavy price from now on for violating financial regulations or disregarding audit queries. On his watch, President Buhari wants to see firm action against those who violate extant financial regulations, not the prevarications and shenanigans that went on in the past in the form of endless probes and public inquiries,” the Presidential spokesman said.
An audit query is the request for an explanation by the Auditor-General of the Federation over improprieties discovered in the Accountant-General of the Federation’s report. The report is done quarterly, The Civil Services Re-organization Decree No. 43 of 1988 empowers the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to supervise the accounts of federal and extra-ministerial department; collates, presents and publishes statutory financial statements of account required by the Minister of Finance; conducts routine and in-depth inspection of the books of accounts of federal ministries and extra-ministerial department to ensure compliance with rules, regulations, policies, and internal audit guides; investigates cases of fraud, loss of funds, assets and store items and other financial malpractices in ministries/extra-ministerial department; ensures revenue monitoring and accounting; provides a system for the monitoring of the accounts of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and ensures timely submission of all financial statements to the Auditor-General of the Federation.
If the Auditor-General is dissatisfied with the reports, he issues queries. Audit queries are also used to check fraud as the ‘ghost workers’ phenomenon.
The orders followed the discovery of a plethora of unanswered audit queries which spanned a long period of time, running into years, under previous administrations.
By Dike Onwuamaeze