9th October, 2022
By Jethro Ibileke
Journalists have been charged to prioritise audit reporting, as a tool to promote accountability in governance.
This was the charge of experts at a two-day intensive training workshop on audit reporting in Benin city, Edo State.
They noted that audit report by Auditors-General in the 36 states of the federation are critical to ensuring the accountability of public officers in the control and management of public funds.
The speakers at the workshop advised that the state auditors-general should follow the dictates of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to do proper audit reporting.
According to them, Auditors-General are to report their findings to the State Houses of Assembly, just as the media will comply with Section 22 of Chapter 2 to ensure that citizens get the information they need on their audit reports.
In his opening remarks, a former Managing Director of New Age newspaper and The African Guardian, Sully Abu, charged journalists “to be courageous, ethical, and conscientious in unfolding the contents of audit reports.”
Speaking on the topic: Understanding budget and public sector finance, Chief Chukwuemeka Anika, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, urged auditors to stay ethical in their audit engagements and to sign only audits that align with their professional, ethical, and moral standards.
On his part, Godswell Omenogor, a chartered accountant and auditor, who spoke on the theme: Interrogating State Government audit reports, challenged journalists to interrogate audit reports and ask relevant questions when necessary.
“These clamours can only be effective if all relevant stakeholders adhere strictly the processes and procedures as enshrined in our laws and related gazettes. Relevant questions need to be asked, adequate information need to be provided, all relevant functionaries need to objectively carry out their respective functions,” Omenogor affirmed.
A former Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian Newspapers Limited, Eluem Emeka Izeze, who spoke on Audit Reports: Crafting a good story, showed the participants various pathways to generating needed information and urged creativity in reportage of subjects such as the audit reports of states.
Also speaking on the subject, Audit reporting imperative for Nigerian journalism, Sonala Olumhense noted that Auditors-General play a crucial role in promoting accountability as the Nigerian constitution empowers them.
According to him, “The Auditor-General of a State is appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the State Civil Service Commission and confirmed by the House of Assembly. The Auditor-General is not accountable to the Governor or supervised by the Governor or any other authority.
“The Auditor-General has the authority to undertake periodic checks of all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by any law of the House of Assembly of that State.”
He further noted: “The Auditor-General is responsible only to the People through the House of Assembly, and once appointed, can remain in office until he retires or dies. That makes him a powerful, independent institution and servant of the constitution.”
The audit reporting training is a flagship capacity development programme of FrontFoot Media Initiative, a collaborative media engagement for development inclusivity and accountability project under the auspices of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WScIJ) and the sponsorship of the MacArthur Foundation.
The training workshop will be replicated for journalists in Enugu and Anambra states, to hold in Awka, on 17 and 18 October, 2022.