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Anti graft: Senate passes new bill to strengthen office of Auditor-General

Nigerian Senate

The Senate has passed a bill for the establishment of Federal Audit Service Commission.

This is aimed at strengthening the Office of Auditor-General of the Federation in ensuring probity and accountability in government agencies.

The passage of the bill followed the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Public Account, at Wednesday’s plenary, presided over by Senate President, Bukola Saraki in Abuja.

Presenting the report, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide, who noted that the bill is very important to the nation, said when passed into law, it would form the bedrock for fighting corruption, one of the cardinal objectives of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

”It will empower the Office of the Auditor- General for the Federation who has the constitutional mandate of auditing all accounts of the federation to nip corruption in the bud, ensure transparency in government transactions.

”The bill will address acute manpower shortage existing in the office of the auditor- general for the Federation and bring it in tandem with Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) and international best practices as obtained in other climes such as South Africa, Ghana and United Kingdom,” he said.

According to him, the commission, when established, will have a chairman, six commissioners from the six geo-political zones and a representative from the office of Head of Civil Service of the federation who is not below the rank of a director.

He said that the bill was passed by the House of Representatives on April 19, 2016 and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence, while the upper legislative chamber passed it on May 1, 2018.

The lawmaker added that after reconciling areas of differences by the conference committee set up by both chambers, the harmonised copy was forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent on Jan. 8, 2019.

He informed the senate that the bill has spent over four months on the table of the president, ”who neither assented nor declined assent to it.”

“Mr President did not communicate to the National Assembly as to why he is yet to sign the bill.

”The most viable option for the National Assembly in view of the constraint of time is to liaise with the president to ensure that he assents to the bill before the end of the eight assembly,” he remarked.

Other bills to be transmitted to the president included, Nigeria Football Federation (Establishment, etc) Bill, National Assembly Budget and Research Office Bill and Federal Audit Service Bill.

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