By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, Oct. 12, 2020 Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says audit process in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) is a critical strategy in curbing misappropriation of public fund.
Osinbajo expressed this view at the Virtual Workshop of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation on Monday.
The Vice President commended the Office of the Secretary to the Government as well as the Auditor-General’s Office for the timely interactive workshop with Federal Permanent Secretaries and chief executives of MDAs.
“The focus on the functional responsibilities of these accounting officers of MDAs in audit processes and engagement procedures is crucial for at least two reasons.
“ First, the public audit process is central to any meaningful strategy to fight waste or misappropriation of public resources.
“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 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.’’
He regretted that audit recommendations were frequently ignored.
According to him, there has also been for years, 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 deserves.
Osinbajo said that it could involve legislation to provide greater independence to the apex audit institution, adding that an audit law might be required to strengthen the legislative framework for external audit.
“ 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.
“I am aware of the ongoing reforms at the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, especially the introduction of Audit Methodology and International Standards of Audit, including the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
“ I am also aware of the remarkable 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. Your efforts thus far are indeed worthy of commendation.’’
He re-affirmed President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the continuing fight against corruption and poor management of government’s financial resources.
The Vice President said that with the sharp drop in government revenues in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, government did not have the fiscal buffers to be careless about the management of public revenues and resources.
He said that auditors and accounting officers were at the frontline in the existential struggle to ensure that Nigeria’s resources were applied to the needs of millions who required them.