BOTH chambers of the National Assembly have passed legislation granting administrative and financial autonomy to Auditor General of the Federation and also establish the Federal Audit Service Commission (FASC).
Senate passed the Audit Bill on Thursday, which had earlier been passed by the House of Representatives.
The Bill will now be harmonised and sent to President Buhari for assent.
Commenting on the passage of the Audit Bill, Senate President, Dr Saraki who presided over the session, said the Bill would strengthen the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration.
“Today is a landmark achievement in the fight against corruption. This will bring accountability and probity in the finances of the government and the fight against corruption.
“I must commend all the members of the National Assembly, both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This will go a long way in ensuring the independence of the Office of the Auditor-General and will ensure that the Auditor-General has access to different parastatals and agencies.
“We truly have to block all the various leakages. We have to ensure that we get this (Bill) to Mr President to get his assent. We have gone a long way in this administration in our fight against corruption, and it is commendable that the National Assembly is the sponsor and mover of this very important Bill, knowing that the Audit Ordinance of 1956 is outdated. We will continue to play our part in this fight against corruption for the sake our country.”
In a statement on Saturday, Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr Anthony Mkpe Ayine while commending the National Assembly for passing the Audit Bill, said the lawmakers have demonstrated great support and commitment to President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at enthroning Accountability and Transparency as key pillars and foundation for good governance in Nigeria.
“The passage of the Audit Bill by the National Assembly will strengthen and enable the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation to make meaningful and impactful contributions towards good governance through effective accountability because all Nigerians desire good governance,” Mr Ayine stated, adding:
“There is no way you can talk about good governance without the key pillars of accountability and transparency. So, with the passage of the Audit Bill, when assented to by Mr President, the Office will be properly positioned to deliver effectively on its mandate, by making bigger and significant contributions to the anti-corruption campaign of President Buhari’s Administration.
“The passage of the Audit Bill by the Senate is historic in every respect in that by this act, the 8th National Assembly has taken Nigeria away from the obsolete Audit Ordinance of 1956, which we had relied upon till now; so the Senate which just passed the Bill and the House of Representatives, which had earlier passed the Bill deserve commendation by all Nigerians and lovers of accountability and transparency,” Mr. Ayine stated.
The Auditor-General particularly praised the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives for rallying the entire National Assembly towards speedy passage of the Audit Bill, as well as the Public Accounts Committees of the Upper and Lower Chambers of the National Assembly for providing the groundwork for the Audit Bill to be passed expeditiously.
When finally assented to, among the gains the Audit Act will bring to the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation according to Mr Ayine, is the attraction of quality human capital to the Office, which will result in the better application of modern audit methods to the benefit of Nigeria.
“With Administrative and Financial autonomy, which will come with the passage of the Audit Bill when assented to, added to the legal autonomy which we already have by virtue of Section 85 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Office will be able to attract quality human capital at competitive standards to deliver quality audit work to place Nigeria’s Supreme Audit Institution at the same level with its peers in other countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world,” Mr. Ayine added.
The Audit Bill, once assented to by the President, will repeal the Audit Ordinance of 1956, and will empower and expand further the scope of audit of the Supreme Audit Institution of Nigeria to carry out audits of all revenues accruing to the federation, expenditures of the federation from all sources, donations, grants and loans accruable to the Federal Ministries, departments and agencies as well as other public entities.
The Supreme Audit Intuition will also be empowered through the new Audit Act to carry out performance audit by ensuring that the operations and activities of the federal government and its agencies are economically, efficiently and effectively performed.