No auditor-general’s report has been fully considered by the National Assembly since 1999, it was learnt at the weekend.
The Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF), Anthony Ayine, urged members of the National Assembly to clear backlogs of audit reports submitted to them.
In a paper titled: “The role of National Assembly in promoting public accountability”, which he presented at the ongoing orientation programme for senators-elect/members-elect of the Ninth National Assembly in Abuja.
Ayine said that to the best of his knowledge, none of reports submitted to the National Assembly for consideration since 1999 has been fully attended to.
He explained that for audit report to be seen to have been treated after submission, a resolution of the National Assembly must be transmitted to the Executive for necessary action.
Ayinye explained that for audit report to be submitted to the National Assembly, “we work with the financial report of the Accountant-General of the Federation’s financial report.”
According to him, his office has started work on the 2017 financial report for submission to the National Assembly for consideration, adding that the last report submitted was for 2016.
“Good governance”, he said, “will remain a mirage in the country, without transparency (openness) and accountability.”
Ayine said: “Corruption has stifled economic growth and development in our country. I am therefore optimistic that collaborative effects of efforts of the three arms of government in ensuring openness and accountability can put Nigeria on a good pedestal and enable her attain her place in the comity of nations where corruption is despised.
“The two Public Accounts Committees (PACs) (of the National Assembly) should draw up time table for clearing backlogs of audit reports.
“Accountability has to do with stewardship while openness is important because nothing is hidden, a situation that makes corruption impossible.”
Ayine, who stressed the need for a paradigm shift in the country, noted that the National Assembly could lead the way in being transparent through a demonstration of public accountability in handling its affairs, including finances.
He noted that “transparency allows access to information, reinforces accountability and makes corruption difficult to be successfully perpetrated because corruption is usually a hidden affair.”
The AGF insisted that the Public Accounts committees should ensure timely consideration of audit reports as well as take a dim view of late responses to audit queries by ministries, departments and agencies.
For the AGF, public accountability will be greatly enhanced, if those in public positions begin to see governance as a social contract for the people they represent and realise that they are responsible to the public.