By Ginika Okoye
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told public officers who had done the right thing not to be scared of being audited by the government or its agency.
The President said this while addressing the Conference of Auditors-General in Nigeria where he was conferred an award for transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s resources.
At the 2nd Edition of the conference Buhari said that auditors were uniquely positioned to check corrupt practices in the country.
He said that through audit findings and recommendations, corrupt practices could be discovered early and loopholes blocked before they were exploited.
Buhari, who regretted that under-performance and ineffective audits contributed largely to governance problems, charged auditors on current and high quality audit reports.
According to him, no one in government should be afraid of audit if they have done the right thing.
“Upon assumption of office, I gave a directive to accounting officers to respond to audit queries within a short time frame.
“This came from my appreciation of the roles and importance of audit.
“It is in line with our administrations financial transparency policy that we launched the open treasury portal last year.
“This again is to improve on accountability, access to information for all citizens and timeliness of financial information.
“A lot has been done but there is so much more to do as the cancer of corruption has deeply infected our country and our governance processes,’’ he added.
Buhari said he understood the challenges the auditors could face in the discharge of their duties.
He, however, noted that the fight could not be won until all tiers of government and Nigerians were determined to win the battle against corruption.
“While efforts are being made to strengthen independence of your offices, I encourage you to try to achieve maximum impact with the powers that you currently have.
“As accountability institutions in the federal, states and local governments, you review the financial performance of officers even when there is no petition or allegation, you are uniquely placed to fight corruption.
“There is literally no aspect of government performance or expenditure you cannot examine,’’ the President said.
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, said that auditors were partners in the fight against corruption.
Magu, represented by Mr Aminu Ibrahim of the commission, said that collective efforts were required to fight corruption in the country.
Also, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, said the target of the Bank was to help the country to eliminate extreme poverty.
Chaudhuri emphasised the role of auditors in maximising every Naira to impact poverty in the country.
Earlier in an address of welcome, Mr Anthony Mkpe-Ayine, the Auditor-General for the Federation, pledged the commitment and dedication of auditors-general to their duties in spite of their challenges.
He said their constraint was the absence of an Audit Act which was a basic requirement for Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI).
He solicited the enactment of audit laws for Nigeria to further strengthen audit institutions in the country.
The three-day conference attracted financial experts including the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, top civil servants and auditors-general from different states. (NAN)