President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said public officers should not be scared of being audited by the government or its agency if they had done the right thing.
He made the remarks in Abuja yesterday while declaring open the second edition of the conference of Auditors-General in Nigeria.
President Buhari also challenged auditors in the country to adhere to the professional code of conduct guiding their operations, while ensuring timely and quality review of financial performance of public officers.
According to the President, ineffective audits of official transaction documents and operations of government establishments contribute largely to governance problems.
He said: “I will remind you that under-performance by auditors, or ineffective audits, contribute largely to governance problems. Auditors therefore need to decide not to be part of the problem but the arrow to the solution.’’
The President, who described the auditors as the champions in the fight against corruption, encouraged public servants to see audit as a means of improving their performance and not as a threat.
He said: ‘’Through your audit findings and recommendations, corrupt practices would be discovered early and loopholes blocked before they are exploited,” he stated, noting that the auditors have the full range of audit tools at their disposal including financial compliance, performance and Information Technology audits. There is literally no aspect of government performance or expenditure you cannot examine. What may be missing is the will to properly deploy the powers that you have.
‘‘As accountability institutions in the Federal, states and local governments, and as the institutions empowered under the Constitution to review the financial performance of public officers even where there has been no petition or allegation, you are uniquely placed to tackle corrupt practices.”
Also speaking at the event, World Bank country director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri remarked that Nigeria is critical to eliminating extreme poverty in the world. He emphasised on the need for fiscal responses to finance all the development needs Nigeria has. For that, it is really important that every single naira the government spends is really maximized.
Chaudhuri said it’s important as the government tries to increase the revenues they spend on Nigerian people; it is vital that to secure public confidence and faith that the funds will be used in the best possible manner for their benefit. “Nigeria needs so much more in terms of government resources,” he added.
The conference was tagged: “Building government Audit Institutions Nigeria needs for the 21st century.”
On his part, Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Mkpe Ayine said the practice of audit in Nigeria is confronted with the major impediment of absence of an Audit Act, which is a basic requirement for Supreme Audit Institution (SAl), Nigeria, to meet, before progressing from level 2 to 3, on a regional ranking range of 1 to 5. He told President Buhari that the Audit Ordinance of 1958 which the country was using is no longer in the statute books of Nigeria.
A major highlight of the event was the presentation of ‘’Champion of Transparency and Anti-Corruption’’ Award to President Buhari by the Conference of Auditors-General in Nigeria.