Auditors-general in the country have been tasked to contribute their quota to towards enthroning transparency and accountability in the public sector in a bid to deepen the fight against corruption.
Speaking at the Conference of Auditors-General in Nigeria in Abuja, Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari said the fight against corruption in Nigeria was yet to attain the desired level being sought by government.
Buhari, who was who was represented by Mrs.Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, said “At the inception of this administration, three cardinal goals were set: these are security, fight against corruption and revamping of the economy.
“Three and the half years down the life of this administration, I am pleased to report that tremendous achievement has been recorded in all three areas. I will say, however, that the desired level in the fight against corruption is yet to be attained.
“Despite this continued effort on the part of government, gap still remained to be closed, especially in the area of external auditing.”
Buhari said since inception, the current administration had introduced several initiatives, especially in the financial and management sector, aimed at stemming the tide of corruption.
Some of these initiatives, he said, include the Treasury Single Account, TSA, which had tremendously reduced leakages in the system, as well as the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, PICA.
He said: “PICA have the mandate to validate controls, assess risk, probe a small cost, ensure compliance with public financial management refunds, detect errors and make recommendations to management for necessary actions.
“Recently, I approve several sweeping reforms in the public finance sector so as to further reduce waste and drive up revenue.
”These reforms include performance monitoring that will set financial indicators and targets for revenue generating for government owned enterprises; new measures for expenditure controls, budgeting and financial reporting requirement.”
President Buhari stated further that, henceforth, the account of government-owned enterprises shall be audited within the period of four months after the end each financial year, adding that the role to be played by auditors-general in the success of this new reforms could, therefore, not be over emphasized.
“Let me challenge you all to think about how progress should be measured and I look forward to this as part of the outcome of your deliberations. The Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, adopted by all United Nations’ member states, is a universal call to action to end poverty and protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
“These are well captured in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP,” the President maintained.
Mr Anthony Ayine, Auditor General of the Federation, said if the audit function performed well in its role, the journey towards achieving the SDGs would be shorter and smoother, adding that where audit institutions were weak, the chance of achieving the SDGs would become even more remote.
He also stated that unless the basic needs of humanity were met, the risk of more part of the country degenerating into unrest was higher.
He emphasised that the challenge of development was not for the Federal Government alone, adding that the problems started when the basic amenities and opportunities of life were not available to human beings.