In a bid to continue to cover up the financial malfeasance in Nigeria Incentive-Based Risks System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Managing Director of the organization Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed has rebuffed attempts by the office of the Auditor General for the Federation (AuGF) to have its accounts scrutinized by government auditors.
Since it’s establishment, NIRSAL has been dogged with series of allegations of financial misapplication and misappropriation running into billion of naira, a development that prompted the Auditor General for the Federation into constituting a team to audit the accounts of the organization.
Under the Abdulhameed’s leadership, NIRSAL together with officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has embarked on series of infractions that have maliciously affected farmers and the growth of agriculture in Nigeria.
As a way to cover up the financial mess in NIRSAL, the CBN has taken over the responsibilities of the Auditor General for the Federation by constituting an audit team for NIRSAL all in a bid to cover up the massive financial mismanagement in the organization.
Our correspondent gathered that with the backing of the apex bank, the NIRSAL boss had boasted to close confidants that nobody, not even the Auditor General for the Federation could pressure them into opening their financial books for scrutiny.
Section 85 of the 1999 Constitution as amended empowers the Auditor General for the Federation to audit or appoint auditors for all agencies of government.
NIRSAL, an agency of the Federal Government is a $500 million Non-Bank Financial Institution created to handle agribusiness-related credit risks in Nigeria.
Our correspondent’s investigations revealed that since it’s establishment in 2013 with million of dollars of tax payers money, the management of NIRSAL has refused to open its doors to the office of the AuGF to scrutinize it’s account, a development that financial experts have viewed as unfortunate.
A top Presidency source that spoke to our correspondent, on condition of anonymity said when a team of auditors were dispatched to NIRSAL, the agency boss told the team of government auditors that they could not audit the accounts of the organization and were therefore sent back.
The source lamented that several efforts to have the management see reasons why the audit must be conducted proved abortive as the chief executive officer insisted that the organisation was not among agencies of government that could be audited by the office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
“This is a slap on President Muhammadu Buhari by one of his appointees. The government can’t be talking about fighting corruption when agency like NIRSAL is refusing to allow a constitutionally empowered organ to scrutinize it’s financial books,” the source said adding that “the MD must be told to comply because it is not his personal finances but Nigeria taxpayers money”.
“He cannot say he won’t account for the billions of naira kept in his custody unless he wants to tell Nigerians that he is above the law. This is a matter that should be of interests to the Economic and Financial CrimeS Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies. They should invite the MD to tell Nigerians why he is resisting having a public account audited. This matter must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet” an angry Presidency source said.
Continuing, the source added “It is unheard of that an agency established by the Federal Government is saying it cannot be audited. I cannot understand that. Government gave you money to run an organisation and the same government wants you to account for how the money was spent or is being spent And you are saying you can’t allow anybody look into the books? It is unbelievable and unheard of. It’s only in Nigeria that this type of thing can happen and nobody is sacked and detained”.
The source however noted that the Auditor General for the Federation would continue to push for the audit of NIRSAL until it has it way stressing “we are going to explore all avenues to ensure that NIRSAL and other ministries, departments and agencies of government have their accounts audited to help curtail corruption”.