By Stanley Onyekwere
FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has charged Auditors-General for Local Governments/Area Councils in the federation to imbibe the culture of transparency and accountability in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The minister gave the charge at the 24th edition of annual conference of Auditors-General for Local Governments/Area Councils in the federation held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Aliyu, who was represented by the Special Assistant on Area Council Services, Hon. Muhammad Saba, noted that the task before local governments in Nigeria is enormous hence the need for assurance and performance that will ensure transparency, prudency and accountability in management of resources at the third tier.
Speaking on the theme: “Laying the Groundwork for Nigeria’s Public Sector Transformation; the Place of the Auditors-General,” the minister stressed that while government is making great effort towards the sustain ability of its policies at various levels including the Local Governments/Area Councils, there was the need to ensure that financial rules, regulations and extant circulars are adequately followed in the application of funds at all levels of government.
She also called for close monitoring by the offices of the Auditors-General to ensure the provision of dividends of democracy as well as adequate service delivery at the Local Governments/Area Councils level are achieved.
Accirding to her, “The importance of the Office of the Auditors-General cannot be over -emphasized especially now that the policy of government is geared towards fighting corruption, ensuring good governance, transparency, probity and accountability.
“This conference is very apt because of the proposed financial autonomy of the Local Governments/Area Councils where financial resource allocations would be channelled directly to them.
“The Federal Government is interested in the development of the grassroot for overall growth and development of the country”
The Minister therefore charged participants to come up with a communique that will address contemporary audit issues in line with global best practices as it affects the responsibilities of the offices of the Auditors-General as well as improved public financial management at the third-tier of government.
On his part, the Chairman House Committee on Public Account, Hon. Oluwole Oke, identifies poor stewardship reporting, administrative interference and inadequate qualified manpower as factors militating against proper auditing of local government accounts in the federation, just as he called on participants to right the wrongs.
“Local government audit is as important as auditing in every other sector of the economy. This is because the local government being the closest government institution to the people demand adequate financial resources, which if properly controlled would benefit the rural communities,” he noted.
Not left out, the Auditor-General FCT Area Council, Hajjiya Kurdirat Abdul-Hamid, noted that more than 2/3 of Nigeria’s population are domiciled at the grassroots, stressing that the welfare of the people at this level is paramount and it is the duty of Auditors to ensure that citizens at that level and the nation get what is best for them in terms of providing basic amenities such as infrastructures, education, health, security among others.