September 16, 2021

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Senate queries loss of N54b on external loans

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By Sanni Onogu, Abuja

The Senate has called for the sanction of officials in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, who made Nigeria lose $274.2million (N54.1billion) on external loans.

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.”

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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) was not disclosed.

“The Accountant-General of the Federation in his response maintained that the closing balance is as provided by 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 Accountant-General of the Federation is (therefore) required to provide the source(s) of the exchange loss difference of $274.2 million (N54.1billion) with documentary evidence.

“Provide the calculations showing how these figures were arrived at and the reasons for the exchange loss for each of the figures should be explained. Disclose the source of exchange difference in a note.”

The upper chamber, in its resolution after the presentation of the report of the Senate Community on Public Accounts by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, upheld the recommendation of the Committee asking that officials involved in the transaction be sanctioned.

The query is contained in the 2015 report of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the financial statement of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federation Account.