BusinessDay

CSO decry poor implementation of audit laws for accountability in states

Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), a civic-tech organization fostering accountability in Nigeria, says the implementation of audit laws- a legal framework designed to ensure transparency and accountability in use of public funds, across most states have been “dissapointingly slow”.

Executive Director, PLSI, Olusegun Elemo disclosed this while presenting the 2021 Subnational Audit Efficacy (SAE) index in Abuja. He said though there has been improvement in enacting audit legal framework in virtually all 36 states of the federation except Anambra and Benue States, implementation remain slow despite issuance of letters by many state governments instructing relevant agencies to commence implementation.

The executive director also disclosed that citizens’ participation in the audit process is very poor across 17 states of the federation and Public Accounts Committees in 31 Houses of Assembly are either less effective or not effective at all, thereby short circuiting the potency of the public audit action cycle as legislators.

Elemo said the subnational level either lack required capacity to perform their statutory oversight functions on public accounts or are unwilling to do so.

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He further outlined some cross-cutting recommendations to improve public finance management practices at subnational level in Nigeria including the need for Governors to enhance implementation of new audit laws especially the financial autonomy clause, provision of independent technology infrastructure to support the work of Supreme audit institutions at subnational level as well as the need to specify timeline for review of audit reports by Public Accounts Committees and adhere to such timeline among others.

While presenting details of the report, Elemo said Bauchi and Osun States ranked top states for transparent and accountable utilisation of public funds, after scoring 88 percent.

Akwa Ibom and Ekiti States occupied 3rd and 4th places scoring 86 percent respectively. Adamawa, Delta, Ebonyi and Gombe scored 70 percent and graded 12th. Lagos and Benue States were rated 35th and 36th having got 41 percent and 39 percent in that order, according to the report.

The executive director informed that the Index for 2021 assessed the level of transparency and accountability operational in the management and utilization of public funds in all 36 states of the federation of Nigeria through the lens of public audit and key stakeholders in the public audit action cycle.

He explained that the 2021 SAE Index involved assessment along six scoring criteria including audit legal framework, audit mandate, type of audit document produced & published, type of audit conducted, citizens’ participation in the audit process and role of Public Accounts Committees.

He, however pointed out that the aim of SAE index is not to embarrass states for poor performance but to identify areas government institutions at subnational level require support to optimize their public finance management practices, improve existing accountability structures and accelerate development.

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