Uche Usim and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday charged the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr Anthony Ayine, and his counterparts at the state levels to keep Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are kept on their toes through timely and high-quality audits.
The President gave the charge in Abuja at the 2020 conference of Auditors-General in Nigeria.
According to him, “no one in government should be afraid of audit if they have done the right thing, and I always encourage public servants to see audit as a means of improving their performance and not as a threat”.
Buhari said his administration was fully aware of the value that audit and scrutiny bring to the performance of governance functions.
While emphasizing on quality of audits, the President urged auditors to live aboard board in all their dealings.
“I urge you to reflect on the following; “has any annual financial statements produced by any of the states received anything other than a clean audit opinion as far back as you can remember?
“You will admit this is strange, in view of the significant cases of misappropriation that have been uncovered, the huge balances that have been recovered and the sentences being served by convicted officials including past state governors.
“One can either assume the audits are not thoroughly done, the auditors have been compromised, or the auditors are constrained in some way or the other.
“As we roll out our development plan, we are conscious that regular and constant monitoring of our performance will be key. We know that Ministries, Departments and Agencies charged with delivery of activities that impact the lives of Nigerians can all monitor and report their own performance, but the most reliable measure is an accurate and independent assessment by external auditors.
“This is one key reason why all tiers of government in Nigeria need a strong external audit function.
“We as a people must also have a mindset that shuns corrupt practices and focuses on the wider public good
“To the Auditor-General for the Federation, I am aware of your efforts to reform your office, and partner with anti-corruption stakeholders to improve the capacity of your staff.
“I have also noted at your last two annual reports for 2016 and 2017 and noted that the audit opinion is in line with the reality of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation that we face in Nigeria”, he explained. In his remarks at the event, Ayine said his Office was battling one major operational impediment, which is the absence of an Audit Act, a basic requirement for Supreme Audit Institution (SAl), Nigeria, to meet, before progressing from level 2 to 3, on a regional ranking range of 1 to 5.
According to the AuGF, the Audit Ordinance of 1958, which the country was using is no longer in the statute books of Nigeria.
“Consequently, we therefore solicit the enactment of Audit Laws for Nigeria, to further strengthen our Audit Institutions to perform better”, he noted. Ayine pointed out that for the country however to genuinely accelerate and make up for lost grounds, all tiers of government must key into the current reform programmes the Buhari administration.
“This, largely informed the current collaboration between the Auditors-General at all levels. We strongly believe that this synergy will have the potential to produce multiplier and beneficial effects on the well-being of our people and our dear country Nigeria”, he stated.