Uche Usim and Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to carry-out a system study and review the exercise of revenue-generating agencies in Nigeria in a strategic move to strengthen accountability and the fight against corruption.
The partnership will entail a joint work-plan and visits to revenue-generating agencies, beginning with Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), and is intended to help the government save a target of N100 billion within a one year period.
In his address at the ceremony at the Audit House in Abuja on Wednesday, the Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr Anthony Mkpe Ayine, said the fight against corruption was enormous and without effective collaboration, efforts can be duplicated and loopholes created for fraud to go undetected and unchallenged.
Ayine stated: “As auditors, we do not have law enforcement responsibilities and power, however, we do come across many instances where there is a need for such intervention. We, therefore, expect the ICPC’s law enforcement powers to complement our audit efforts.
“Both institutions have agreed to prioritize the audit/review of revenue-generating agencies in view of the impact it will have on government’s ability to implement the 2020 budget. We have set ourselves a clear financial target against which we expect to be measured.
“So, essentially, this collaboration is to strengthen accountability and fight against corruption in our country. We as auditors lack enforcement power, but ICPC has that power. I believe the complementary effect of our working together will definitely achieve so much,” he added.
On his part, the Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the aim of the collaboration which will have a preventive effect on corruption, is to assist the government to achieve its income expectations and economic agenda for Nigerians.
“Some of the things that the AuGF’s reports have disclosed are some of the things that we have taken enforcement measures on. We decided that given the size, experience, knowledge and (geographical) spread of the OAuGF, it would be very strategic to collaborate with them in order to do more with less,” Owasanoye said.
He added that the review exercise will examine ethics compliance, culture and financial management of revenue generating institutions, as well as government structure and feedback from stakeholders.
“President Buhari has said ‘if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria and that is the truth. We are very delighted to have this relationship with the Auditor-General basically to initiate new strategies and methods for dealing with corruption”.
Preparatory to the MoU signing today, staff from both organisations have undergone training in January 2020, and reports from the first stage of this partnership are expected in May.