The present use of 1956 Audit Ordinance by Nigeria has been identified as the major reason for the widespread corruption in the country.
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations made this known in Abuja during a CS/Media breakfast session on Audit governance in Nigeria.
The Executive Director, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), Olusegun Elemo and Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe of Democracy Vanguards said the Audit ordinance being used by Nigeria does not capture the present-day accountability challenges.
They lamented the inefficiency of the current Audit Ordinance Act and demanded a modern Audit Law that is capable of preventing corrupt practices in the country.
Mr Elemo and AmbassadorJerry expressed concern that despite the huge benefits of the new Audit Bill passed by the 8th National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari who was believed to be championing anti-corruption crusade refused to sign it into law without providing any reason. They appealed to the media to step up advocacy on audit bill so as to get the President’s assent.
They said it is disheartening that the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation depends on the Federal Civil Service Commission for human resources and rely on the Federal Ministry of Finance for funding, contrary to Section 85(6) of the constitution.
Elemo said the constitution empowers the Auditor-General to perform his duty independently. Quoting the constitution, Elemo said “In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution, the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person”. Elemo frowned at the current situation which renders the Auditor-General powerless.
He said it is better to deter corrupt people through efficient auditing system and thereby prevent corruption rather than spending huge money and resources to fight corruption. “Why fighting corruption when you can prevent it? It costs more to fight corruption than to prevent it”, he said.
He explained that the 2018 Audit Bill is comprehensive and would guarantee full independence of the Office of the Auditor-General, enhance investigative powers to the Auditor General and ensure probity and accountability in the audit and financial system of the country.
Highlighting the enormous benefits of the new Audit Bill, Ambassador Jerry said the Act will ensure that corruption reduce drastically, leakages plugged; corrupt people exposed, and money channeled to provide services to the people would not be stolen by greedy individuals.
Ambassador Ugokwe said these gains can be consolidated only when the president assents to the bill to become law. He urged the National Assembly to summon the courage and take the bull by the horn by overriding the President if he fails to assent to the bill without cogent and tenable reasons.