The Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday urged Nigerian financial experts to come up with measures that will facilitate international best practice and assist in the elimination of corruption in the financial system.
Tambuwal made the call at a public hearing jointly organised by the House Committees on Public Account and Justice, on a bill to repeal the nation’s Audit Act of 1956. He declared that Nigeria must align with modern trend in digital auditing.
The Speaker regretted that the extant Audit Act, which was bequeathed to Nigeria by the colonial masters some 60 years ago, does not give the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation the required instrument to fight corruption nor allows it to streamline the practice as it is done in other countries.
According to him, the new Audit Act, when it eventually becomes a law, will help create Audit Service Commission, which will allow the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation the latitude to restructure auditing practice in Nigeria thereby subjecting it to modern trend in digital auditing.
He noted that the public hearing offered experts in the field ample opportunity to make input in the bill before the House on the repeal of the extant act as well as allow the parliamentarians the platform to gather sufficient information that will impact on the overall interest of the bill.
The Speaker acknowledged that there will be differences in opinion but charged participants to contribute meaningfully by ensuring that all aspects of the bill are thoroughly x-rayed and brought in line with international auditing practice, functional legal provisions such that will bring about standard auditing practice in Nigeria, with a view to reducing corruption in the system.
In his submission, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Okura Samuel, lamented the non-existence of Auditing Act in the country, noting that even the 1956 colonial provision was removed in Nigeria’s body of laws since 2004.
He disclosed that Nigeria is the only country in the world without a functional Auditing Act, an inadequacy, he said, has robbed her of the opportunity of auditing international accounts, including the ECOWAS account, which Head Quarters is in Abuja.
Buttressing his assertion, he said Ghana audited the United Nations’ organisation account for 30 years, and then passed the baton to South Africa, which is currently auditing the UN accounts, while Nigeria had been severally denied because the UN has been uncomfortable with Nigeria’s lack of auditing law.
“It is very rare to see an MDA coming to the National Assembly with a bill to have its finances audited. This bill, therefore, will put an end to the lingering question of ‘who audits the auditor?’” he said, stressing that it would be impossible for the Office of Auditor General of the Federation to fight corruption without having the legal means to do so.
Apart from enabling them to carry out emerging and specialised audits such as performance audit, environmental audit, disaster related aid audit, management information audit and infrastructure audit, among others, the bill, when passed, will allow donor agencies like the World Bank, UNESCO, GIZ, UNDP, etc to partner it in many areas.
Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Account, Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, said after operating with an obsolete instrument, it was high time Nigeria adopted a digital accounting tenet. He said when passed into law, the bill will not only impact on the society but add value to Nigeria’s financial system.