Tinubu urged to sign audit bill to curb corruption in public sector
Former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Ismaila Zakari, has called on President Bola Tinubu to urgently sign the Public Audit Bill into law to curb corruption in the public sector.
Zakari, while lamenting that the audit law used in the country today was enacted in 1956, said the new law, which was passed by the immediate past National Assembly, is still awaiting presidential assent.
The National Assembly, in March this year, announced the passage of the Federal Audit Service Bill that prescribes a five-year jail term for any accounting officer who prevents the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF) from accessing their account books.
The bill, which also seeks the establishment of the Federal Audit Commission, is expected to, among other things, strengthen the OAGF and check endemic corruption in the system.
Zakari spoke in Abuja at a two-day training for journalists on Audit Reporting, organised by FrontFoot Media in collaboration with the Wole Soyinka Foundation and the McArthur Foundation.
He also decried the failure of the Auditor’s General of States and that of the Federation to prepare their periodic reports as required by law, stating that the last audit report of the Federal Government was in 2019.
According to him, since 2019, the Auditor General of the Federation and the Accountant General of the Federation have, for some reason, not completed their reports. He added that accountants general were required by law to present their statements of account latest by March 31 for auditing, while auditors general were to present their reports latest by June 30 every year.
The former ICAN boss noted that despite breaches to the constitution that mandates such periodic publications, no one has been held accountable. He stressed that if the country’s financial statements are not prepared, it would not know how precarious or otherwise its financial position is.
Zakari, therefore, urged journalists to fulfill their constitutional obligations by providing checks to public agencies to ensure they comply with the law. He also suggested a review of the constitution to allow the budget to be laid before the executive instead of the legislature.
Zakari decried the failure of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly to ensure that they get the Auditor General of the Federation to publish his periodic reports as required by law.
Earlier in his remark, the Chairman of FrontFoot Media, Sally Abu, noted that the workshop was one of a series to bring journalists to speed with the constitutional responsibility of holding public office holders accountable.
Abu stressed the importance of accountability, as it is what holds society together and should not just be given a cursory but holistic look. He also emphasised the need for state governments to understand the law does not permit them to sack.
“The governor cannot remove the auditor general unilaterally, except by a two-third majority of the state house of assembly,” he said.
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