The job of an auditor is simply to ascertain figures of nominal and capital expenditures by local, state and Federal Government agencies, which either may over bloat its expenses, through inflation of contract sums, payment of ghost workers and pension scams.
Nigeria had suffered setbacks over the years arising from outright looting of the treasury by public office holders, betraying the trust of the people, having consequential effect on the economy, to the extent that African countries that have looked up to Nigeria for support have become better actors to drive the economic growth in the continent.
Corruption culture anywhere in the World will nosedive every economy no matter how strong and diverse, which ultimately is the syndrome Nigeria is suffering from, having spent decades in some time past to navigate through this ugly path of retrogression.
Inadvertently, issues bothering on corruption and wastage in public service are to be tracked by auditors and bring alleged officials to justice, if the process of monitoring is transparent, devoid of compromise in carrying out its functions as clearly defined.
Only a few days back, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC rolled out figures of looted funds, and clearly stated that over 60 percent of stolen funds are starched within the Nigerian environment, though concerted efforts are ongoing to recover all funds looted from the Nation’s treasury.
At a conference of Auditors General in Abuja, drawing its representation from the 36 states including FCT, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had noted that the fight against corruption may not have been significantly won, but strategies and innovative investigations into alleged stolen wealth is a pointer that relevant agencies have to put in more efforts to achieve desired results.
Giving this matching order in Abuja, Buhari who was represented by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, tasked auditors-general in the country to work more than ever before to ensure transparency and accountability in the public sector so as to deepen the fight against corruption.
He said, “At the inception of this administration, three cardinal goals were set: these are security, fight against corruption and revamping of the economy. Three and the half years down the life of this administration, I am pleased to report that tremendous achievement has been recorded in all three areas. I will say, however, that the desired level in the fight against corruption is yet to be attained.
“Despite this continued effort on the part of government, so much is still desired to be made to completely eradicate corrupt practice in the country; gap still remained to be closed, especially in the area of external auditing.
Since inception, the current administration had introduced several different initiatives, especially in the financial and management sector aimed at stemming the tide of corruption within and outside the public service.
Some of these initiatives, according to the HOS, include the treasury single account, which have tremendously reduced leakages in the system, as well as the Presidential initiative on Continuous Audit, PICA.
He said, “PICA have the mandate to validate controls, assess risk, probe a small cost, ensure compliance with public financial management refunds, detect errors and make recommendations to management for necessary actions.
“Recently, I approve several sweeping reforms in the public finance sector so as to further reduce waste and drive up revenue. These reforms include performance monitoring, which will set financial indicators and targets for revenue generating for government owned enterprises; new measures for expenditure controls, budgeting and financial reporting requirement.”
Presidential directives have it that henceforth; the account of government-owned enterprises shall be audited within the period of four months after the end of each financial year, and the role will be played by auditors-general in the success of this new reforms taken into account the strategic position of auditing in accountability and openness.
“Let me challenge you all to think about how progress should be measured and I look forward to this as part of the outcome of your deliberations. The Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, adopted by all United Nations’ member state, is a universal call to action to end poverty and protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
“These are well captured within the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP. Independent evaluation by auditors, for the success or otherwise of the implementations especially in the management of looted funds; against the right of proper implementations of the treasury single account TSA, the input achieved through the NPower programme, the lives that have been improved through the social safety net, conditional cash transfers and the school feeding programme and the visible progress with growth and real infrastructure, across the country are all necessary ingredients for improvement,” Buhari maintained.
However, the Auditor General’s office has been doing much, but it appears as if it’s not visible. Section 85 of the Nigerian Constitution is very clear about the function of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation. It has a mandate to audit all public accounts of the federation, that is, all public offices, including the courts. Basically, the function is to protect the public interest by carrying out detailed examination of the national accounts and submitting reports to the National Assembly and the essence of it is for the purpose of accountability.
Quite often, people talk about good governance without knowing the critical ingredients that make good governance. Before you can have good governance, you must have transparency and accountability, and so basically, the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation is to ensure transparency and accountability. Once you have these, you can be sure of good governance being in place.
Eze, wrote in from Abuja
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