Uche Usim, Abuja
The Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Mr Anthony Ayine, on Thursday said he has initiated the process for three additional performance audits to be conducted on the Treasury Single Account (TSA), management of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the effectiveness of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
The three agencies have come under heavy criticism lately as Nigerians insisted their services did not mirror their robust funding.
Ayine made the disclosure at the Audit House in Abuja while hosting the Head of Service, Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, who led a peer-review delegation to understand and assess the operations and achievements of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) in line with its mandate.
He also revealed that reports on four major IT audits, conducted in some areas that have generated lots of attention from Nigerians over the past few years, were underway.
According to him, significant amount of the fieldwork has already been done, even as he listed the audits to include Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information Systems (IPPIS) and Government Integrated Financial Management and Information Systems (GIFMIS).
Others are the Nigerian Immigration Service e-passport system and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) – National Drivers’ Licence Scheme (NDLS) and the National Vehicle Identification System (NVIS).
“The reports of these audit investigations are expected to be published soon” he said.
Providing details on the operations of the OAuGF, Ayine said Nigeria has no extant Audit Law and that the current set up of the OAuGF does not give it the functional independence that is required under international standards.
Ayine said administrative autonomy for the office will be achieved with the approval of the Audit Act, as the office will be responsible for administering its affairs in line with global best practices and the Lima Declaration of 1977, and that financial autonomy is equally necessary to ensure that finances of the Office are not hampered by bureaucratic bottlenecks which will affect the smooth running of its affairs.
“Over the years, the Office has been faced with insufficient funding pattern. At different times and venues, presentations have been made to convince the Budget Office on the need to consider the Office’s allocations outside the envelope system knowing fully well that the work of this Office covers the entire nation and over 116 Diplomatic Missions,” he said.
The Auditor-General further noted, “In West Africa, Nigeria is one of the few still operating a non-functional independent Supreme Audit Institution (SAI), that is, a SAI that is only legally independent, but still largely dependent operationally and administratively.”
Critics have frowned at the practice where Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation operates from the Audit House which does not have the capacity to accommodate its over 1700 staff and as a result, still maintains resident auditors at various ministries, a practice that falls short of international best practice.
Earlier in her remarks, the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, called for the speedy passage of the Audit Bill, which she described as vital for economic development.
According to her, an Audit Act will enable the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) carry out its constitutional functions.
She added that it will will give the OAuGF the administrative and financial autonomy it requires to carry out its duties effectively and be at par with other Supreme Audit Institutions worldwide, adding that it was an abnormality for auditors to be resident with the entities that they audit.
“The audit bill has gone quite far already…It is now being finalized by the National Assembly to go on to Mr. President for assentation. It will be very good once this Act comes…Right now the Auditor- General’s office is just operating and being treated as another MDA or part of the government structure. They are not having enough teeth to carry out their functions effectively,” the Head of Service stated.
She said further, “The Auditor-General is trying very hard, especially with his team in the area of capacity development.
You can see that in the last three years they have done a lot of training and they have engaged with a lot of development partners, especially the World Bank.
Recall I also made a comment that we the auditees who receive the federal auditors are already witnessing improvement in their level of professionalism and interaction, when they go out for audit.”