From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate has commenced legislative proceedings to amend the 1999 Constitution that will grant financial autonomy to the Auditor-General of the Federation which will enable it fight corruption in the public service.
To give teeth to the new law, Senate also seeks to alter the Constitution to place the Auditor-General on a First Line Charge of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). The Upper Legislative Chamber wants the same law to apply to the state Auditors-General to enable them audit the accounts of statutory corporations, commissions, authorities and agencies and for matters connected therewith.
The new law is sponsored by Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Ahmad Lawan. Among other functions, the bill seeks to empower the Auditors-General to decide on the steps to be taken after an audit.
The Auditors-General will also at their discretion determine the nature and extent of audit to be carried out and request the details, statements of accounts and financial statements, which they consider necessary, investigate and make extracts from any record, book, documents and other information of any institution or entity whose accounts are being audited by them free of charge.
Lawan said: “On the other hand, the legislature also being an ‘auditor’ through its function of oversight should stand for the opposite – well-funded, strong, functional, efficient, effective, enabled and vibrant Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and for the states.”
Lawan noted that it was due to poor funding and orchestrated efforts by the executive arm of government over the years that the Auditor-General of the Federation is challenged with acute shortage of accommodation, inadequate and poorly- trained personnel. Senate President David Mark acknowledged that “the bill is a very crucial one as it will define the shortcomings in the efficient performances of the Offices of Auditor-General of the Federation and that of the state governments. He said that though financial independence is necessary, but loses its relevance in a situation of paucity of funds.