The absence of an enabling law is impeding the work of the auditing agencies in Nigeria, delegates to the 49th Conference of the Body of Federal and State Auditors-General in Nigeria have said.
The Auditor-General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine, also said inadequate independence of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) in Nigeria remains a major challenge the group was facing.
He said having an audit Act will guarantee administrative and financial autonomy for the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, and enhance its efficiency and effectiveness, as topmost on the list of challenges currently facing.
Administrative and financial autonomy are two of three qualities required for a nation’s supreme audit institution to be truly independent, the third being legal autonomy, which section 85 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, already provides.
The official spoke on “Prospects and Challenges of the Audit Institutions in Today’s Nigeria” to flag-off the Conference, Abuja.
In order to reposition audit institutions, generally, to meet their constitutional mandates, Mr Ayine said it was imperative to ensure that “the three-fold audit Independence that will give the Legal, Administrative and Financial Autonomy is provided”.
Other challenges highlighted by the auditor-general include poor accounting environment, contending with the scourge of fraudulent activities/corruption in the public sector, poor or inadequate use of appropriate and modern technology by audit institutions.
He also spoke about lack of management capacity and proper appreciation of the key role of management responsibilities in the audited entities.
The auditor-general highlighted the ‘unbalanced media reporting of audit issues’, and very poor or unattractive remuneration of staff of SAIs in Nigeria.
He said the absence of robust working relationship between SAIs in Nigeria and the Public Accounts Committees of the National and State Assemblies was among challenges currently facing the body.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Body of Federal and State Auditors-General, Abdu Usman Aliyu, who is also the Auditor-General for Bauchi State, said autonomy for audit institutions remained an impediment to the growth of the body and ultimately hinders accountability and good governance in the country.
“Although, many states in the federation are able to have their Audit Laws and some have even established Audit Service Commissions, we will appreciate it if the Audit Bill of the Office of the Auditor-General for Federation is signed into law so that states can just domesticate it,” he said.
Mr Aliyu said audit institutions cannot live up to their mandates if the willingness of the executives and other stakeholders to accept and respond to external scrutiny of the management of public funds is lacking.
He also challenged auditors to continually adhere to the professional code of conduct guiding their operations at all times.
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