Nigeria

Despite Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War, Massive Fraud, Theft Still Rock Federal Establishments

By Akanimo Sampson
Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.), former military dictator, now President of Nigeria. His fascist approach to anti-corruption appears to be worsening, not curb fraud in Nigeria.

Despite the creeping fascist tendency of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, most unrepentant public functionaries at federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) do not yet appear to be on the same page with the ex-military strong man’s regime on anti-corruption.

Federal establishments under the Buhari watch are still awash with massive fraud more than four years after the exit of the demonized Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rule. Audit probe by the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Anthony Ayine, has uncovered myriads of unreported losses of funds, vehicles and stores in various MDAs.

The huge waste arose from theft, fraud, negligence, death of government debtors, inadequate security and non-observance of existing regulations.

The startling revelation is contained in the 2017 audit report of government agencies which was released recently.

The report says the concealment of lost items covers a period of five years (2012-2016), a development the AuGF said was wrong, given that they should have been formally reported to his office or other relevant agencies.

According to Ayine, ‘’the nil position of reported cases over the last five years is a clear indication of the outright disregard of the provisions of Chapters 25 and 26 of the Financial Regulations which enjoin all accounting officers to render reports of any loss of cash, stores, plants, vehicles and equipment to my office, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and to the Federal Civil Service Commission.

‘’Losses of cash, stores, etc, were not officially reported by the MDAs to my office during that period. No accident case involving any government vehicle was also reported. This is not to say that it was nil situation with all the federal ministries if the quarterly returns on government vehicles had been promptly rendered.

‘’This situation is quite worrisome. The stated regulations require strict compliance by all Accounting officers. Accordingly, I recommend that all MDAs be required to comply strictly with the provisions of the financial regulations.’’

For instance, at the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), the AuGF unearthed a case of unreported stolen vehicle, a Toyota Avensis which belonged to the institute. It was allegedly stolen. But, the criminal was apprehended and the sum of N3,819,000 was recovered from Industrial and General Insurance Company Plc, Lagos, the insurer of the vehicle.

According to the report, ‘’this robbery was not reported to the offices of the Accountant-General of the Federation and Auditor-General for the Federation in line with the provisions of financial regulations 2505(i) (b) and 2603 nor documentary evidence of remittance of the recovered amount to the Consolidated Revenue Fund or prosecution of the case in the law court was presented for audit confirmation.’’

While Ayine recommended that the NAPTIN Director-General should forward evidence of remittance to government coffers, the sum of N3,819,000 that was recovered from the insurance company together with the police extract and any other resolutions leading to the conclusion of the case, he explained that the risk in operating outside the rules of engagement usually results to loss of government funds as was the case at NAPTIN.

The Federal Government however, embarked on a robust reform of the electricity power industry as a key strategic driver towards achieving the goal of becoming one of the top twenty economies in the world by the year 2020 (Vision 20:2020).

The reform, driven by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act of 2005, provided the platform for deregulating the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry from the control, ownership and regulation of the sector by the federal government to a private sector-driven industry.

The reform basically focused on accomplishing Power stability, reliability and sustainability and human capacity development, amongst others.

At the privatisation and unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), wherein 11 Distribution Companies (DisCos) and six Generation Companies (GenCos) emerged, NAPTIN, which was the training arm of the erstwhile PHCN, evolved as a wholly owned government training Institute under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Power in the year 2009 with a mission to train skilled professionals required in the power industry and other related sectors.

In fulfilling this government’s desire to ensure adequate, reliable and sustainable electricity supply for socio-economic development and nation-building, NAPTIN became poised to providing the needed training to the DisCos, GenCos, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Rural Electrification Agency (REA) amongst others locally. Also, for Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) amongst others internationally.

NAPTIN also provides training to public and privately owned entities and over the years had trained personnel of reputable firms such as Guinness Nigeria Plc, Sahara Group – Nigeria, NETCO Plc., (a subsidiary of NNPC) amongst others.

Notably, NAPTIN, in collaboration with Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has trained personnel of the Volta River Authority – Ghana, Grid Company(Gridco) – Ghana and Liberian Electricity Corporation – Liberia.

Also, at the University of Ibadan, the report observed that a Toyota Avensis Sedan with registration number 50A 03 FG assigned to the former Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, which was purchased at the sum of  N9,339,750 in December 2014 was stolen few days after delivery.

‘’It was observed that a claim was sought by the university from its insurance company, and compensation in the sum of N4,006,800 was paid to the university in January 2015 through First Bank cheque No. 43741912.

‘’Instead of paying to the account of the university, it was observed that the sum of  N4,006,800 was later transferred to the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic’s private account vide payment voucher number FBN/IRB/3/15/2 dated March 20, 2015 after the expiration of his tenure as Deputy Vice Chancellor.

‘’The voucher had no evidence of application made by the payee nor authority and approval for the transfer. Due to the foregoing, government suffered loss to the tune of the stolen vehicle purchased at the cost of N9,339,750, and was also denied access to the compensation in the sum of N4,006,800 after bearing cost of insurance’’, the report said.

Meanwhile, in his recommendation, the AuGF said the Vice Chancellor is required to recover the sum of N4,006,800 paid to the former Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics and remit to Federal Government of Nigeria/Treasury Single Account.

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