Buhari queries audit reports of states
…Says corruption, misappropriation rife in states
By Anthony Okafor
President Muhammadu Buhari, has queried the audit reports produced by the various states of the federation, declaring that the clean report given most of the states were not in tandem with happenings in the states.
Speaking in Abuja, at the second edition of the conference of auditors-general in Nigeria, Buhari stated that the fight against corruption cannot be won until all tiers of government and indeed the generality of Nigerians are determined to join the fight against corruption.
He stated that there were significant cases of misappropriation across most of the states, while he described as bizarre, the clean audit opinion given the financial statements of the states, irrespective of the widespread fraud in the states.
He argued that with the reports churned out from the audits of the states, one can assume that there was collusion among the state actors and the auditors.
According to him, the government’s expectation for the future was to see audits conducted at all tiers of government with more impactful findings, while he called for increased collaboration between audit institutions and other anti-corruption agencies.
He “I am aware there is already a programme under World Bank assistance to help all State Audit Offices in this regard.
“To emphasize the issue of quality in audit, I ask you to reflect on the following: Has any annual financial statements produced by any of the states received anything other than a clean audit opinion as far back as you can remember?
“You will admit this is strange, in view of the significant cases of misappropriation that have been uncovered, the huge balances that have been recovered and the sentences being served by convicted officials including past state governors.
“One can either assume the audits are not thoroughly done, the auditors have been compromised, or the auditors are constrained in some way or other.”
Buhari further noted that he expects audit institutions to be able to report the amount of financial impacts and savings they have achieved for their government, along with non-financial impacts.
He said, “I expect to see better and greater collaboration between your institutions and other anti-corruption agencies. I expect your audit reports to be current and of a high quality.
The president declared that the administration was fully aware of the value that audit and scrutiny brings to the performance of governance functions, noting that as the Federal Government rolls out its development plan, it is conscious that regular and constant monitoring of its performance would be key.
“We know that Ministries, Departments and Agencies charged with delivery of activities that impact the lives of Nigerians can all monitor and report their own performance, but the most reliable measure is an accurate and independent assessment by external auditors. This is one key reason why all tiers of government in Nigeria need a strong external audit function.”
Also speaking, Auditor-General of the Federation, OAuGF, Mr. Anthony Ayine, informed the president that the process of reforms embarked by the auditor-general’s office was making steady progress, noting, however, that one major impediment to his function was the absence of an Audit act.
Ayine, who pledged total support for the fight against corruption, solicited the enactment of audit laws for Nigeria to further strengthen the audit institutions to perform better.
Speaking in the same vein, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, identified major financial tools which had contributed immensely in the blockage of financial loopholes in government to include the Treasury Single Account, TSA, which has been instrumental in monitoring of inflow and outflow of public funds and has made the federal government save as much as N24.7 billion every month.
Magu, who was represented by one of the officials of the EFCC, Mr. Aminu Ibrahim, added that the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information, IPPIS, platform which was domiciled under the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, had helped the country to save over N600 billion with thousands of ghost workers removed from the payroll of the government.
He said, “The Bank Verification Number, BVN, has been very effective in our efforts to check financial crimes; it has exposed several fraudulent accounts being used by corrupt persons to penetrate fraud.
“The Nigeria Tax and fiscal law amendment bill 2019 also known as the finance bill just recently signed into law by the President is also laudable and should be applauded.”