Jonathan: Efficient Auditor-General Key to Fighting Corruption

President Goodluck Jonathan James Emejo President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday said an effective and efficient Office of the Auditor- General of the Federation (Okoye) is critical in ensuring accountability in public service as well as to win the fight against corruption in the country. He said government would provide a conducive working environment to enhance the performance of the AuGF in order to promote greater accountability. Speaking in Abuja at the commissioning of the new office complex of the AuGF, he said government would do everything possible, to assist the office and guarantee its independence. Jonathan admitted that the former operational office of the OAuGF- a three bedroom rented apartment, was not befitting of its image and promised to further strengthen the supreme audit institution in the country to compete with its peers globally. Jonathan said he expeditiously granted approval for the acquisition of the new office complex when the request of the Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee was made to him. He said the OAuGF needed a conducive working environment to discharge its important duties to the country adding that he was pleased that the Audit Bill that would further strengthen the OAuGF was currently being considered. He said:”An effective and efficient auditor general’s office would not only guarantee accountability but would ensure our fight against corruption is won back quickly. I want to assure you that government would do everything possible within the ambit of the law and available resources to support your office.” He said given the height and size of the building compared to its responsibilities, the office was still not big enough to accommodate the OAuGF adding that “as we progress, we will see how to get a bigger and a more befitting place.” However, while expressing gratitude to Jonathan for approving the purchase of the edifice, the AuGF, Mr. Samuel Ukura said the operational office may have further “sharpened the teeth of auditors to bite.” According to him, the OAuGF had within the last 20 years occupied various rented apartments at a time various government agencies had acquired their headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Notwithstanding the new complex, he saidadditional operational offices were still required to pull out all members of its staff who currently occupy premises of those they are supposed to audit. This, according to him, would guarantee operational independence in line with international best practice. Ukura said occupying apartments of auditees had the tendencies to influence auditing outcomes, adding that the acquisition of the new eight-storey building was a right move towards the independence of auditors. He said:”If you are staying in somebody’s house, he’s feeding you and even giving you some other requisites, unless you have a heart of a stone, you will not write any bad thing about him.” The AuGF also said urgent actions were required to improve operational costs to cater for new audit areas including information technology, environmental, forensic, risk based and performance information audits as well as audit of over 100 foreign missions yearly. Specifically, Ukura said while the president himself would not be exempted, the performance information audit would hold public officers accountable to what they promised to achieve. He said the current management had ensured timely submission of Annual Audit Reports to the National Assembly since 1999, adding that work was still ongoing for the 2013 report. Also speaking at the occasion, Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Lawan Ibrahim Ahmad, noted that the fight against corruption could not succeed without a befitting office for auditors. Ahmad regretted that in the 2014 budget proposal, the OAuGF has only about N3.2 billion to audit a budget of N4.6 trillion.

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