Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, October 13, said there is much to do to ensure the country fulfil its mandate of fighting corruption to a standstill.
Professor Osinbajo said this at an engagement workshop organised by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation (OAuGF) in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary To Government of the Federation (OSGF) to minimise the misapplication of public funds across Ministries, Development and Agencies.
The workshop is themed, “Audit Processes and Engagement Procedures: Functional Responsibilities of Accounting and Chief Executives Officers of MDAs”.
The event supported by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the MacArthur Foundation served to provide a platform for the Auditor General for the Federation, Anthony M. Ayine, to interface with federal Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers of MDAs across sectors of the country.
Continuing, Professor Osinbajo said it is important for all head of the MDAs to have it in mind that they are the frontline managers of nation’s resources.
“I urge all the Auditors and heads of MDAs to have posterity in mind as you are the frontline manager of the resources of the country. To support the anti-corruption fight of the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari, the heads of MDAs must take this workshop seriously,” Professor Osinbajo said.
In his address, the Auditor General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine, said his office has observed that with the increase in awareness among Nigerians and the advancement of information technology, there are higher expectations from the people.
Ayine further urged public officers especially heads of MDAs to ensure they have an understanding of response procedures and standardization, the implication of timely response to audit observations and consequences for non-response.
Also speaking, the chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, said there is the presumption that once anyone is appointed as a CEO of an agency, he or she must have the competent capacity needed to steer the system in the right direction.
Owasanoye stating that such should be discountenanced said there is need for continuous capacity building for people in such position.
As solution to bridging the gap among CEOs, Owasanoye said the ICPC recommends periodic capacity building for the heads of government agencies in fiscal management.
He also said that the ICPC is in collaboration with the OAuGF to do system reviews that could help block leakages of public funds across MDAs.
“We think that when we continue with constant review and oversighting of financial conduct of MDAs will reduce infractions. We are looking forward to more proactive and production consultation and collaboration and we look forward to the knowledge gap that would be closed from this meeting,” Owasanoye said.
Condemning the laxity with which some heads of agencies handle the fiscal management process, the SGF, Boss Mustapha, said some MDAs have never submitted their financial statements to the office of the AGF.
“There is a need for a change of mindset among government agencies from seeing auditors like terrorists,” Mustapha said.
In addition, World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri said the independence and the functioning of the OAuGF is going to be key for the international bank.
He also said that while the World Bank looks forward to supporting Nigeria, it should also be noted that the international bank is not and donor but has concessionary funds that are channelled to the support of development projects in Nigeria.
Commending, Chaudhuri said that the work by the office is line with World Bank’s focus of ending poverty in Nigeria.
Stuart Tibbs Economic Adviser, UK-FCDO said: Over the last two year the United Kingdom has continue to work with the OAuGF to ensure peer and advisory support to minimising risk of misapplication of funds.”
Speaking on what the success of the workshop means for the CDD, the director of the Centre, Idayat Hassan, the event is, “one of our support for anti-corruption in Nigeria.”
Also congratulating the OAuGF for the workshop, Hassan said the Auditor General had plans for event since last year but it was delayed due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“This event is very important because the more this kind of event happens there would be a reduction in opacity of management of resources. We at the CDD are very very happy to be supporting the OAuGF to ensure a reduction in the misuse of public funds,” Hassan said.
She also said that the Centre hopes that at the end of the engagement there would be more productive output from the auditors and the auditees in the country.
Also, the chairman, of Senate Public Account Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, said: “The workshop is timely. I urge every stakeholders to work towards an effective audit law to make the Auditor General ‘s Office Independent.
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), DCP Mohammed Abba, described auditing as an independent examination of an entity, to ensure that the books of accounts are properly maintained.
He said stakeholders should always evaluate and improve on auditing processes to give citizens the ability to hold their leaders accountable.
“Accounting auditors of MDAs are responsible for providing reliable, it is pertinent to state that the ongoing event will go a long way to help minimise corruption in public offices.
He also said that the EFCC is readily available and would do all within its powers to fight financial crimes in Nigeria’s public offices.
Participants at the event include the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi; the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim; Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Cooperation, Adamu Adaji; Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Ede, Dr John Taiwo Adekolawole; the Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Sani Mashi and Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lamido Yuguda.
Others are Mr. Akinwale Awosemusi of the National Examinations Council; DG of Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Adeshola Adepoju; Registrar, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON); Dr Sholiyi Olusegun of the Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion among many others.