Worried over increasing wave of non- response to audit queries and absence of cooperation with the office of the Auditor General by some heads of Ministries, departments and agencies of government, Federal government on Monday said it is adopting measures that will strengthen the independence of Auditors.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, while speaking at a training workshop for Federal Audit Staff in Abuja, lamented that auditors have difficulties with doing their duty because often, audit queries are not responded to, adding that ” The lapse is worsened by the absence of sanctions for these derelictions”
The Vice President also revealed that audit recommendations are frequently ignored, adding that ” there has also been for years, a recognition of and indeed some agitation for the reengineering of the whole public auditing process to achieve the robust external audit framework that the Nigerian public service environment requires and deserves”
Osinbajo therefore, said this “may involve legislation to provide greater independence to the apex audit institution, and even an audit law may be required to strengthen the legislative framework for external audit”
“We simply do not have the fiscal buffers to be careless about the management of public revenues and resources.
He noted that auditors and accounting officers are the frontline workers in the existential struggle to ensure that Nigeria’s resources are applied to the needs of the many millions who require it.
The Vice President also identified public audit process as central to any meaningful strategy to fight waste or misappropriation of public resources
For him, this is so because the audit is not only useful for discovering malfeasance, it is also one of the most potent preventive measures.
“Second, an audit can be advertently or inadvertently frustrated by poor synergy between the auditor and the auditee.
“This appears to be at least, a cause for concern for the office of the auditor general.
” Indeed, it seems to me that this workshop may not have been as urgent as it is but for the fact that auditors have difficulties with doing their duty because often, audit queries are not responded to and this is a lapse worsened by the absence of sanctions for these derelictions.
“Additionally, audit recommendations are frequently ignored. there has also been for years, a recognition of and indeed some agitation for the reengineering of the whole public auditing process to achieve the robust external audit framework that the Nigerian public service environment requires and deserves.
“This may involve legislation to provide greater independence to the apex audit institution, and even an audit law may be required to strengthen the legislative framework for external audit.
The Vice President noted that tackling these issues is crucial, given the enormity of the audit responsibilities in the Nigerian public service.
” The service employs at the moment hundreds of staff, over 1000 accounting units, ministries, department and agencies. Every one of these approximately 1000 units is required to undergo external audit every year by law and Constitution.
“There is clearly a lot to do if we are to fully support the anti-corruption and fiscal transparency agenda of the government and faithfully fulfill our obligations of accountability to the Nigerian people.
As part of measures to tackle some of the issues, government recently embarked on reforming the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, especially with the introduction of Audit Methodology and International Standards of Audit, including the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
The workshop is part of the capacity building initiatives being undertaken by the Office of the Auditor General to get audit staff to attain the right levels of competency, given the very low base the auditors are starting from in their effort to adopt international standards.
“This is even more imperative on account of the sharp drop in government revenues in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic.
“I urge you to have posterity in mind as you work every day. It is really up to us to shape the Nigeria we will be proud to hand over to the generations to come”
He therefore, commended the Office of the Secretary to the Government as well as the Auditor-General’s Office deserve commendation for this timely interactive workshop with Federal Permanent Secretaries and CEOs of MDAs.
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