Experts seek improved internal auditing to tackle corruption
Until organisations embrace standard internal auditing, especially to predict, indicate and curb sharp practices, the nations’ fight against corruption may continue to be a mirage, financial experts have said.
The experts, who spoke at the launch of a book, titled: A to Z of Internal Audit, recently in Lagos, were also unanimous that internal auditors, “the watchdogs in organisations”, must also be accorded the requisite legal and administrative support to work dispassionately.
They added that the adoption of simple process of auditing guidelines, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), monitoring for compliance and punishment for defaulter will drastically reduce Nigerian corruption index.
It will be recalled that the Transparency International (TI) report, in its 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), ranked Nigeria as the 148th out of 180 world’s least corrupt countries.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, at the book launch, said corruption is an unbridled propensity to amass wealth over and above the human need with attendant effect on the nation.
Adamu said the corrupt state of the country is worrisome, looking at its devastating effect on the nation and organisations. He said, “Corruption distorts market, increases terrorism and universal hate, lack of employment and investments among others.”
However, “Internal audit will bring about risk reduction in modern parlance for risk management. We discerned that internal audit helps to strengthen the control mechanism in organisation, corporate entity and country at large,” he said.
Author of the book, Patrick Nzechukwu, described internal auditing as a tool for efficient and effective risk management, internal controls or compliance and governance processes, designed to add value to organisations and help them accomplish their objectives.
Nzechukwu, however, decried that the profession had been neglected in Nigeria both at the tertiary institutions and professional levels, including those in practice.
He stressed that the panacea to corruption and inefficiencies in our system, is internal auditing.
In his words: “Internal auditing is about immortalising good corporate governance, effective enterprise-wide risk management and internal controls, compliance and good reporting system in any organisation. A to Z of internal practice is a guide for internal auditors and even for non-auditors and represents the first goal agenda of vision 2030. This is what the book is already doing.
“We look forward to institutionalising internal auditing in West Africa by 2030 as a foremost tool for anti-corruption, mitigation to the barest minimum of inefficiencies, ineffectiveness and other forms of financial and non-financial risks with strong corporate governance and adequate control and compliance and virile reporting systems.”
On inculcating the course in the syllabus, Nzechukwu said incorporating internal auditing in West Africa institutions as done in other developed economies would bring about inventions and innovations that would be acceptable as global best practices.
President, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Rasak Jaiyeola, noted that the role of internal audit is to rule out corruption, which is germane to our current challenge in Nigeria.
He stressed that internal auditor should leverage on technology to predict trends and intercept issues before more problems arise.
According to him, “Robotic process automation saves time and allows the auditor to face other salient activities. There can also be blockchain network of ledgers and data to eliminate intermediaries and boost efficiency.
“The fourth revolution, internal auditor needs higher skills to meet the requirements. He must have the strategy evaluation and risk modification ability. Corruption has become endemic for all strategies. Research says Nigeria has lost $4 billion to corruption in 2012.
“Effective management of risk and good governance are imperative to managing corruption. Create efficient and safe channel of reporting and safeguarding the whistle blower.”
Chairman of the occasion, Sam Ohuabunwa, advised government to set up systems and procedures and ensure it works because, if there are laws without implementation, it will be a waste of time.
He said: “Internal auditing is concerned about the concept of knowing how much you have determine to spend, how you spend the money and putting proper checks in place to determine if it is working or not.
“It is not at the end of a project or a fiscal year that we invite an external audit. By then, the crime had been committed and your damage control might not be as effective. Be sure to continually monitor your system and imbibe the culture of accountability. Internal auditing will ensure that there is stability and integrity of the system. It will create a body of knowledge and a research reference,” he said.