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Enugu state Govt to withhold subventions to 33 firms over failure to submit audited accounts for up to 17 years, says Auditor General

The Enugu State Government has said that it will withhold further subventions and grants to 33 state-owned companies, parastatals and other statutory bodies over failure to submit their audited annual accounts, some as far as 1991, in line with the provisions of Section 125, sub-section 3 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Speaking with SummitNews in Enugu, the State Auditor-General, Dr. Livinus Okoro, expressed displeasure over the persistent failure of the affected firms to audit and submit their annual accounts to his office, adding that the state government will be compelled to withhold furthera subventions and grants to the erring firms.

He reiterated that the action of the firms violates Section 125, sub-section 3 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution which mandates such bodies to produce their audited annual accounts and forward them to the auditor general for review and comments.

He, however, revealed that about six of the affected institutions including the Enugu State Tourism Board, and the Enugu State University of Science & Technology (ESUT), have started complying with the requirements of the law.

SummitNews recalls that the report of the Enugu State Auditor-General on the accounts of the Government of Enugu State of Nigeria for the year ended 31st December, 2020, which was released in April 2021, showed that thirty-three state-owned firms were yet to submit their audited accounts, some of them between ten and seventeen years.

However, some of the affected institutions visited by SummitNews to get their reactions on the issue, feigned ignorance of the existence of the reports of the auditor-general on the accounts of Enugu state Government which indicted the thirty-three firms.

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For instance, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Institute of Management & Technology (IMT), Enugu, Barrister Mark Eze, said he was unaware of the existence of such a report, and, therefore, not in a position to offer any comment on the issue.

According to the 2020 auditor-general‚Äôs report, the IMT is in arrears of three years (1917 ‚Äď 2020).

Similarly, an official of Nike Lake Protea Hotel, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told SummitNews that the 2020 auditor-general’s report was yet to be brought to the knowledge of the hotel’s management.

Nevertheless, the official explained that most of the affected firms neither have qualified internal auditors to audit their annual accounts, nor the money to engage external auditors to do the job.

Though the state auditor-general agreed that some of the affected firms lacked qualified internal auditors, he, however,  said the state Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was disposed to providing money to such organisations to pay external auditors to ensure that the right thing is done.

“In the year under review, list of qualified firms of auditors that registered with the Office were sent to the various boards, commissions, government-owned companies, parastatals and other agencies established by law to enable them prepare their accounts.

“However, only very few of these bodies as usual presented their audited accounts for review in spite of grants and subventions approved to them.

‚ÄúNotwithstanding the situation above, this Office has on interval basis carried out periodic checks on these bodies in order to keep them abreast with the provisions of the law,‚ÄĚ said the 2020 report.

According to our Corrrespondent, the much acclaimed West Africa’s first steel plant, Niger Steel Company Limited, located at Emene, near Enugu, has been overtaken by weeds despite the state government’s effort to breathe life into the ailing company.

‚ÄúThere is nothing going on here ‚Ķyou can see that all the buildings have been taken over by weeds,‚ÄĚ said ¬†a seemingly beleaguered security man when our Correspondent requested to see the company‚Äôs chief executive officer.

In 2013, the Enugu state Ministry of Commerce and Industry in conjunction with the National Privatisation Council, set out to fast track agreement/Memorandum of Understanding and all necessary documents to commercialise ailing industries in the state such as Niger Steel Company, Niger Gas, Sun Rise Flower Mill, Aluminum factory at Ohebe Dim, AVOP Nachi, Hotel Presidential, Enugu, and Oghe Cashew Industry.

SummitNews recalls that several millions of Naira was provided for in the 2013 budget of Enugu state for the seamless execution of this exercise, but it seems that nothing was achieved in that direction.

It seems also that the state government has been extending grants and subventions to the ailing companies slated for commercialisation, even when they are non-functional or productive.

According to the 2020 Enugu state government audit report, Niger Steel Company Limited, and Niger Gas Company, also located in Emene, have both not submitted their audited reports in the past 17 years.

Dr. Okoro appealed to the media to assist his office to educate the concerned government establishments on the need to account for public money made available to them, saying that to do otherwise ‚Äúsmacks of absolute disregard to transparency and accountability which hallmarks good governance.‚ÄĚ

The Enugu State Auditor General’s 2020 report lists the erring MDAs in a tabulation.

SN   Name of parastatals, tertiary institutions, boards, and companies    Outstanding years of unaudited account

1        Enugu State University of Science & Technology                                                                    2018-2020

2       Pilgrim Welfare Christian Board                                                                                                 1996-2020

3       Enugu State Housing Development Corporation                                                                    2017-2020

4       Enugu State Transport Company                                                                                                2010-2020

5       Niger Steel Company Ltd                                                                                                               2003-2020

6       Community Development Coordinating Council                                                                      2003-2020

7       Rural Electrification Board                                                                                                            1991-2020

8       Post-Primary Schools Management Board                                                                                2019-2020

9`     Agency for Mass Literacy                                                                                                               2003-2020

10    Enugu State Council for Arts and Culture                                                                                   2003-2020

11     Awgu Games Village                                                                                                                        2003-2020

12    Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board                                                                                 2020

13    Tourism Board, Enugu                                                                                                                     1992-2020

14    Institute of Management and Technology                                                                                   2017-2020

15    Niger Gas Company Ltd                                                                                                                   2003-2020

16    Enugu State Water Corporation                                                                                                     2015-2020

17    Enugu State Library Board                                                                                                              2002-2020

18    Ada Rice Project                                                                                                                                2003-2020

19    Enugu State Gaming Commission                                                                                                 1999-2020

20   United Palm Ltd                                                                                                                                1999-2020

21    Enugu State Science and Technical Vocational Board                                                              2007-2020

22   Enugu State College of Education (Technical)                                                                            2017-2020

23   Nigeria Construction and Furniture Company                                                                            2008-2020

24   Premier Cashew Industry Oghe                                                                                                       2018-2020

25   Nike Lake Protea Hotel                                                                                                                     2018-2020

26   Sunrise Flour Mills Ltd                                                                                                                     1999-2020

27   Enugu State Waste Management Authority                                                                                 2010-2020

28   Enugu State Broadcasting Service                                                                                                 2010-2020

29   Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo                                                                                                     2016-2020

30   Agency for Legal Aid Council                                                                                                          2007-2020

31   Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC)                                                    2015-2020

32   Enugu State Scholarship Board                                                                                                      2007-2020

33   Rangers Management Corporation                                                                                                 2010-2020

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