VP’s Remarks At The Virtual Workshop Of The Office Of The Auditor General
AUDIT PROCESS CENTRAL TO CORRUPTION STRATEGY FIGHT AGAINST WASTE, MISAPPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC RESOURCES – OSINBAJO
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, THE VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE VIRTUAL WORKSHOP OF THE OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL ON THE 12th OF OCTOBER, 2020
The Office of the Secretary to the Government as well as the Auditor-General’s Office deserve our commendation for this timely interactive workshop with Federal Permanent Secretaries and CEOs 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 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. 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.
Let me close these remarks by re-affirming Mr. President’s commitment to the continuing fight against corruption and poor management of government’s financial resources. This is even more imperative on account of the sharp drop in government revenues in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. We simply do not have the fiscal buffers to be careless about the management of public revenues and resources.
As auditors and accounting officers, you are the frontline workers in this existential struggle to ensure that Nigeria’s resources are applied to the needs of the many millions who require it. 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.
This workshop is therefore both timely and proactive. I wish you very fruitful and beneficial deliberations and it is now my very special pleasure to declare this webinar open.