President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said there was need for an effective audit office to help deliver huge financial savings to the country.
Buhari made this known at the inauguration and public presentation of a Five-Year Strategic Development Plan for the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation in Abuja.
Buhari, represented by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun commended the office of the Auditor-General for achieving the plan and urged that the plan be implemented soon.
“Every moment we do not have an effective audit office we lose money. It is of good economic sense to sort out the funding of the national auditor generals office.
“There is a lot to do; there is need to improve on capacity to keep the pace with what is happening around the World.
“There is a constant need for training and re-training. Capacity building should be constant and continuous and as a government we must be sure that we have this.
“It is very important that we have audit independence and this must come with competence. If there is ever a time when we need to reform the audit of the country, it is now.
“One of the key priorities of this administration is anti corruption but beyond this we must build institutions,’’ he said.
The president expressed the commitment of the current administration to ensure support to the audit office, adding that steps were already being taken to improve the audit function in the country.
He noted that the audit office was currently engaged in a number of fundamental reforms which would result in positive developments.
He urged that the primary financing of the audit be done by the Nigerian public while the partners such as DFID support the country in its course.
Earlier, Mr Anthony Ayine, Auditor-General of the Federation, said the Office was ready to chart a new path towards value added services to the nation and to effectively fulfil its mandate.
According to Ayine, the Supreme Audit Institution in any country is the first port to call to know how government is performing in resource management and service delivery.
He said: “the Plan being inaugurated sets out our effort to reverse decades of under-performance by the audit function as well as under-investment in audit.
“It sets out the five key areas of our focus and has been prepared in line with the methodology set out by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.
“It is also in line with guidance from the African Chapter-African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E)
Ayine noted that if the Plan was well supported and delivered, it would lead to significant improvements in accountability across all MDAs of the Federal Government.
He called for independence of the audit system to enable the Office exert high level of integrity, objectivity and professionalism as demanded by global best practice.
He also urged that the audit Bill before the Senate be passed into law within few months.
He said, “It is my belief and conviction that Nigeria needs an operationally and financially independent Audit Office that is free from external influence or indirect control.
“It should be able to deliver on its mandate without obstruction and empowered to report its findings accurately and in full without impediments.
“Nigerians expect this, the current administration desires this and the whole world including our development partners and investors also expects this.”
In her remark, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, The Head of Service of the Federation, commended the office of the Auditor-General in its effort to bring about integrity in the operations of government.
According to Oyo-Ita, the strategic plan would help address the issue of poor financing in the country.
She however called for cooperation among various agencies to improve Nigeria’s financial reporting.
Also, Mr Kingsley Chinda, Chairman House of Representatives Public Account Committee (PAC) reinstated the commitment of the legislature to partner with the Office of the Auditor-General.
Chinda said the House was working at ensuring the audit office gained its independence to effectively carry out its mandate.