Uche Usim, Abuja
The Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Mr Anthony Ayine, and other delegates to the 49th Conference of Body of Federal and State Auditors-General in Nigeria have identified the absence of an Audit Act, which will guarantee administrative and financial autonomy for the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, and enhance its efficiency and effectiveness, as the greatest challenge hurting audit institutions in Nigeria.
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.
Delivering a keynote address on the theme: “Prospects and Challenges of the Audit Institutions in today’s Nigeria” to flag off the conference, holding in Abuja, Ayine, said inadequate independence of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) in Nigeria remains a major challenge facing the body.
According to him, in order to reposition audit institutions to meet their constitutional mandates, “it is 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 environments, contending with the scourge of fraudulent activities/corruption in the Public Sector, poor or inadequate use of appropriate and modern technology by audit institutions, as well as lack of management capacity and proper appreciation of the key role of management responsibilities in the audited entities.
In addition, Ayine said the unbalanced media reporting of audit issues, very poor or unattractive remuneration of staff of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) in Nigeria, and the absence of robust working relationship between SAIs in Nigeria and the Public Accounts Committees of the National and State Assemblies are among challenges currently facing the body.