By Chibuzor Emejor, Abuja
Recently, Nigeria through the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation played host to participants and facilitators drawn from Uganda, Sudan, Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, who were on a one week capacity building programme on performance audit under the aegis of African Organisation for Supreme Audit Institution-English Speaking [AFROSAI-E].
Performance audit, a new concept in most of the African countries, “is an independent, objective and reliable examination of whether government undertakings, systems, operations, programmes and activities are operating in accordance with the principles of economy, efficiency, effectiveness as well as whether there is room for improvement.”
Unlike the financial audit, performance audit goes beyond the accounting figures. It relates mainly to the intentions of government interventions as regards economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
In his explanation of what Performance audit is all about, the Auditor-General for the Federation, Samuel Ukura, succinctly said: “It is the audit of impacts of governance on the well-being of the citizens.”
Ukura reminded his audience at the graduation ceremony of 27 certified performance auditors in Abuja, that the “primary purpose of government is the provision of security and welfare of the people,” quoting the Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution [as amended].
He lamented that over the years empirical evidences indicated that set objectives of government projects and programmes were not always realised and most times deliverables were completed late at the cost of efficiency due to lack of performance audit. This ugly situation, he explained, often has attracted public outcry due to endemic corruption and poor service delivery in the public service.
It is against this backdrop, according to him, that the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation, has been investing in the promotion of performance audit practice in Nigeria in partnership with AFROSAI-E through training of officers drawn from various African countries and Nigeria.
Ukura explained that the implementation of performance audit in the country would reduce waste, ensure economic, efficient and effective use of scarce government resources as well as reduce corruption in the public institutions.
According to him, lack of performance audit in Nigeria is one of the factors responsible for abandoned and failed projects that littered across the length and breadth of the country.
However, he assured that with the one year intensive training on performance audit for the few privileged participants, which his office could provide “the audit solution” through performance audit which would ensure that resources available for governance are deployed in an economic, efficient and cost effective way to bring about transparency, accountability and good governance.
He also expressed optimism that with the training of 48 certified performance auditors by his office, which the audit of the nation’s accounts s would be done in most professional and transparent manner to guarantee value for money in government financial activities for the benefit of the citizenry.
Also speaking, the Deputy Director ,Performance Audit in the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation , Oluremi Odusanya, said that performance audit was designed to bring out underlying issues that tend not to make systems work, which impede objectives of programmes.
Odusanya further explained that performance audit seeks to find out if money spent on government’s project, is economical, efficient and cost effective. She noted that the basic questions in performance auditing include: Are the right things being done? If so, are things being done in the right way? And if not, what are the causes?
On the spending of public funds on the execution of projects, she asked rhetorically: “Is the money spent on government projects rightly done? Is it economically? Has it delivered the impacts? Are the citizens having a feel of the projects? These are questions, according to her, performance audit seeks to answer”.
She also noted that the performance audit covers all the stakeholders to ensure that the right things have been done, at the right time to guarantee their impacts on the beneficiaries.
While explaining the indispensability of the capacity building for performance auditors, the Deputy Director pointed out that the Performance audit is not taught in schools. She further noted that it was borne out of the need for the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation to focus on strategies of enriching “public accountability while carrying out its statutory functions in line with best international practices.”
She therefore, urged government to embrace the implementation of performance audit to ensure overall well-being of Nigerians.
In his contributions, the Senior Manager, Performance Audit, AFROSAI-E, Lars Florin, explained that the training was based on international standards, adding that the application of performance audit would ensure value addition to government’s business and projects.
Florin, one of the facilitators of the training programme, assured that the participants would produce high quality reports that would promote good governance and accountability in their various countries.
More importantly, as part of measures to provide legal framework in the implementation of performance audit, the Nigeria’s Auditor General has disclosed that a three day retreat would be organised soon for the members of the National Assembly to keep them abreast of performance audit, its benefits and impact on the governance.
He also revealed that his Office would soon send the reports of the performance audit to the National Assembly for consideration and approval, adding that the recommendations and findings of the audit would be of immense benefits for the nation.
He said based on the regional and international cooperation of Supreme Audit Institutions [SAIs], that Nigeria already had participated in the completion of Environmental Audit on the drying up of the Lake Chad with Lake Chad Basin Commission member countries of Cameroun, Chad and Niger.
He also said the audit of Cooperative Environmental Audit on implementation of local content policy in oil and gas industry in Nigeria with SAIs of AFROSAI-E member countries from Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana is in progress, adding that arrangements for the official presentation of both reports to the National Assembly have been finalised.
It was reliably gathered that about six performance audit reports are undergoing quality assurance test while others are at various stages of completion.
The Auditor General for the Federation contended that the impact of performance audit would be felt more, when violators of financial records in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies[MDAs] are thoroughly sanctioned by the relevant authorities.
To quote him: “It is hoped that the impact of performance audit activities could best be assessed when sanctions imposed on MDAs found culpable and audit recommendations are faithfully implemented to bring about improvements in governance.
“This will have positive effects on the management of public funds, ensure financial discipline, reduce waste and curb corruption.” To this end, he charged participants drawn from different countries to ensure effective reporting through due clearance of draft reports and subsequent presentation to their various parliaments”.
Source : Independent