A non governmental organization, Grassroots Development Monitoring and Advocacy Centre (GDMAC) has applauded the new Audit law passed in Kwara state, calling for innovative mechanisms to sustain public engagement in the State’s fiscal governance beyond World Bank Conditions.
The Grassroots Development Monitoring and Advocacy Centre (GDMAC) is a registered nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting transformative governance, particularly at the subnational levels.
In a press release issued by Malam Tunde Salman Jimoh, Executive, Grassroots Development Monitoring and Advocacy Centre (GDMAC) pointed out the merits of the new law, Kwara State Public Audit Law no. 4 of 2021, which was assented by the State Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq on Thursday, June 30, 2021; following a speedy passage of the Executive Bill by the Kwara State House of Assembly after a public hearing conducted by the House Committee on Public Accounts on Monday, June 28, 2021.
The group also known as Good Governance Team, applauds the enactment of the new Public Audit Law in Kwara State which it said repeals the outdated colonial (and post-colonial) era audit legislations hitherto guiding public accounts audits in the state.
The release stated “Like many other states across the federation, it is instructive to reiterate that prior to this new audit law, Kwara State has a set of very outdated laws and regulations that governs its public audit process (aside the general constitutional basis) namely: the Audit Act of 1956 and/or the Audit Law Cap II of the Laws of Northern Nigeria (Kwara state); Kwara State Government Financial Regulation Act 2000; Guides to Administrative Procedure in Kwara State 2006; and various Treasury Circulars issued occasionally by the Office of Accountant General to guide financial transactions in all MDAs in the state.
“While the new audit law may not adequately captures all the submissions made at the public hearing by the civil society and other major stakeholders, GDMAC however views, as a welcome development the enactment of a modern audit law for the state. With the expansion in scope and growth of public sector activities, it is gratifying that the constitutional foundations of the subnational Audit Institutions are now further detailed out more specifically in this emergent progressive audit legislation for Kwara State.”
The group further added that beyond the speedy enactment of Kwara State Public Audit Bill 2021, GDMAC strongly stresses that the Offices of State and Local Governments Auditors-General must be adequately funded to fulfill their statutory constitutional mandates through first-line charges on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state.
It said that the current funding level of the Office of State Auditor General is not consistent with the resource envelope needed by the Auditor-Generals to fulfill his/her mandates adding that hence, the Kwara State House Assembly is urged to ensure the new legislation provides the Auditor-Generals with adequate human, material, and financial resources to perform their statutory constitutional responsibilities without executive control or directing access to these resources.
Also it said that to achieve real autonomy or independence in the performance of their duties, the legislature needs to capacitate the Auditors-General with a sound legislative framework that guaranteeing or ring-fencing their security of tenure, administrative latitude to recruit or engage appropriate skills, and resources, through increased funding (that is, financial autonomy as a first-line charge).
“The legal, administrative, financial, and operational autonomy and/or independence of the Offices of both the State and Local Governments Auditors-General is of paramount importance for the greater transparency and accountability of the Kwara State public administration at both the state and local government levels.
“Without an explicit legislative basis guaranteeing broader institutional and financial autonomy, public sector audits would continue to be hampered by external influence or interference especially from the agencies they audit. Therefore, the freedom of Auditors-General to carry out their audit tasks without barriers, whether political, administrative, financial, or legal, as well as free access by the public to their audit reports will ensure the objectivity of their findings, enhance their credibility making it possible that the findings are reflected in preventive or remedial actions aimed at improving governance and reducing public sector corruption.
The body also stated that a minimum, government audit activities need Administrative/ operational Independence and formal legal mandate adding that unrestricted access to information, sufficient funding, competent leadership and staffing, broader stakeholders support; and professional audit standards which has been variously espoused in declarations of International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAIs) as well as regional, sub-regional, and national instruments. Finally, GDMAC requestes that both Auditors-General and the Public Account Committee should establish innovative mechanisms to involve members of the public in the audit process, and across the State’s public finance management value chain through invitation to the public hearing, special citizen’s dialogue, and making their reports accessible to the public both online and offline and that the African Organization of English-speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E) recommends that Auditors-General work with citizens and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to determine their audit plan.