World Bank to support OAuGF’s drive on accountability, transparency
The World Bank has expressed its willingness to support the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF) in the drive to enthrone accountability and transparency in Nigeria by ensuring timely, speedy and successful completion of the public accountability process.
Dr. Edward Olowo-Okere, Director, Governance Global Practice of the Bank stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine at the Audit House, the Supreme Audit Institution’s headquarters in Abuja.
Speaking when he led the delegation of the bank on a courtesy call to the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation, Olowo-Okere said the World Bank would like to see that the Public Accountability circle is completed on time, and thus would like to assist the OAuGF to achieve this goal.
“We want to support the accountability process so that the public accounts are completed on time; that the audit is completed on time and laid before parliament and parliament also does their own part of reviewing the audited account and take action on time, also with the Executive arm responding on time on the recommendations that have been made by the Public Accounts Committee, to complete the accountability circle,” he stated.
Responding, the Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr. Ayine thanked the World Bank for its support over the years; he however listed a number of challenges which he implored the bank for further assistance.
Specifically, Mr. Ayine stated that “as the foremost Audit Institution working and helping the country in transparency and accountability we need to reposition ourselves effectively so that we can discharge the mandate that we have.”
To do this, he said the OAuGF has submitted an Audit Bill which is now before the National Assembly, to afford it the administrative and financial autonomy desirable to function effectively. His words:
“We have prepared and submitted an Audit Bill, which the House of Representatives has passed; and this Audit Bill is now before the Senate, the upper chamber of the National Assembly. It is our hope that if this Audit Bill is passed, it will help this office to have the kind of audit independence that the Supreme Audit Institution should have.
“So if we have support from you in this area we will also appreciate it; because for now, we lack that administrative and financial autonomy as a Supreme Audit Institution,” he told the World Bank team.
For instance, he lamented that due to low remuneration for personnel of the OAuGF, the office is unable to attract more quality hands in a competitive labour market. He stated:
“Our remuneration is tied to the Civil Service structure; as such it makes things difficult to attract the kind of good hands we should have. And if this Audit Bill is passed we will have the necessary structure on ground that we can be taken out from the Public Service structure. And, this will help us a great deal,” he told his guests from the World Bank.
He listed some of the other challenges that the OAuGF would appreciate support from the World Bank to include capacity building for its work force. He said the OAuGF needs support in the areas of audit tools it uses, like Computer Assisted Auditing Techniques (CAATs), and to also adopt tools like Teammates audit software or audit command language, among other modern auditing tools.
“We need support for us to be able to build capacity for our staff in the area of international public sector accounting standards, because training for an auditor and retraining is very necessary. We would like to compete globally; we are in a global village now, so having skilful manpower is very, very necessary. So, in the area of training and retraining, we will also appreciate if we have support from the World Bank,” Mr. Ayine stated.
He also appealed to the World Bank to assist in engagement with the National Assembly to see to the speedy consideration of audit report when it is laid before it.
“Another key challenge is the consideration of our annual audit report. Currently we are having engagement with the Public Accounts Committees, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate towards speedy consideration of our annual audit report and also presentation for consideration at the plenary session of the National Assembly. We need support from you in this way.”
Agreeing with Mr. Ayine, the World Bank’s Dr. Olowo-Okere explained the accountability process thus:
“If you look at the accountability process, the way it operates, the Executive arm prepares the account for the government; that account has to be audited by the auditor-general; and the accountability process is not complete until that report is laid before the National Assembly and then passed on to the Public Accounts Committee; and that committee has to review the auditor-general’s report, call up those who have questions to answer and then deliberate properly on it and make recommendations on those audited reports.
“And then those people from the executive arm who had been called to answer to any issues raised have to respond or act based on what the PAC has decided; that’s when the accountability process is completed.
“So if in a process where you get up to the point where the audited financial report is prepared and laid before the NASS and then the rest of the process does not happen then the accountability process is not complete,” Dr. Olowo-Okere further explained.
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