By Ndubuisi Francis in AbujaÂ
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.Â
Speaking when he led a delegation of the bank on a courtesy call to the Auditor-General for the Federation , Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine at the Audit House in Abuja, theÂ Director, Governance Global Practice of the World Bank, Dr. Edward Olowo-Okere, said the bank would like to see that the public accountability cycle is completed on time, and would therefore like to assist the OAuGF achieve this goal.
â€œWe 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,â€ Olowo-Okere stated.
Responding, Ayine thanked the World Bank for its support over the years, but listed a number of challenges for which he solicited the bank’s further assistance.
Ayine specifically stated that â€œas 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.â€
To do this, he said the OAuGF had submitted an Audit Bill which is now before the National Assembly, to afford it the administrative and financial autonomy needed to function effectively.
His words: â€œWe have prepared and submitted an Audit Bill, which the House of Representatives have 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.
â€œSo 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,â€ 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.
â€œOur 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,â€ he added.
He listed some other challenges that the OAuGF would appreciate support from the World Bank to include capacity building for its workforce.
Ayine added that the OAuGF also needed 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
â€œWe 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.Â So, in the area of training and retraining, we will also appreciate if we have support from the World Bank,â€Â Ayine added.
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.
â€œAnother 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,” Ayine stressed.