By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Lagos State House of Assembly has concluded arrangement to strengthen the Audit Law in the state by amending it.
Speaking during a day public hearing on A Law to Amend the Lagos State Audit Law on Friday, Speaker of the House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, said government must be transparent.
Mr Obasa, who was represented at the event by the Majority Leader, Mr Sanai Agunbiade, said government needed to generate revenue to serve the people and that government’s money must be spent for the purposes it is meant for.
“The Audit Department is very important and we must continue to make it functional and effective. The central internal audit is domiciled in Public Finance Management Law.
“The Bill seeks to amend 23 Sections of the law, take it to Audit Service Commission and bring all the auditors under one umbrella to exclude the control of Central Internal Audit from the Ministry of Finance.
“It is to extend the application of the audit law to local government audit commission.
“It is also to take care of little lapses in the law and strengthen our audit system in the state,” he said.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Moshood Oshun, said the amendment was necessary.
Mr Oshun added that the auditors, who he said were the state police, serve as checks and balances on the state’s budget.
The lawmaker stated that the auditors monitor the state’s expenditures, and commended the Auditor General of the state for what she has been doing.
Mr Oshun promised that the House would do its best and do the utmost for the auditors so that the tax payers would have confidence in the government.
“We will do everything within our powers for the auditors to give the best so that they can give us a good report, which would be properly treated.
“I want to appeal to the auditors to do the best within their ability so that we can have the Lagos of our dream that can be compared to any state in the world.
“You must do everything possible to be the state police on auditing.
“We must all contribute objectively to make the bill a better one. You can give us a memo to have a bill that we all can be proud of,” he said.
In his contribution, Chairman of the Lagos State Audit Service Commission, Mr Waliu Abiodun Onibon, observed that the original bill was passed in 2010 and not 2015, and that the Permanent Secretary to be appointed should be a chartered accountant by profession, saying that he is in-charge of in-house administration.
He suggested that the Chairman of the Commission should also be a professional accountant with cognate experience.
The State Auditor General, Mrs Morenike Helen Deile, stated that Public Sector Audit experience must be different from private experience, and that the two of them must have public sector experience.
Mrs Deile added that the commission would formulate polices, while the audit agencies would implement the policies.
“The Auditor General would be appointed on the recommendations of the State Civil Service Commission. Local Government Service Commission has nothing to do with it, it should be Audit Service Commission.
“Public financial management is a global framework. We should not repeal the provision in that law,” she said.
The Auditor General, who welcomed the amendment, stated that it would further empower auditors.
She stressed that there was no issue with her staff and that the MDAs have improved.
“There are always challenges because nobody wants to be audited. But by and large because of education we are not hostile to them, we are now strategic partners.
“The Lagos State Government started electronic financial system years back, but we cannot cut off from paper auditing just like that.
“We do electronic auditing of basic agencies that are on the platform. We even train system auditors amongst us and we give reports to the Assembly. We are telling the MDAs to do proper record keeping,” she said.
Also speaking, the Chief Executive of the Institute of Internal Auditors, Mr Humphrey Okorie, said the state was moving closer to international best practise on auditing, and commended the stat for the establishment of Audit Service Commission.
Composition of the commission
Mr Okorie advised that the commission should comprise a chairman and four others with a professional accountant and a professional auditor with 10 years’ experience.
He observed that there was a difference between internal auditing and accounting even if they are related.
According to him, an experienced auditor should be appointed as the Permanent Secretary, while there should be a Bureau for Internal Audit Services for the effectiveness of governance system and processes.
He added that internal auditors ought to be in various agencies to ensure that the necessary systems work.
“The head of Bureau for Internal Audit Services should be appointed by the Governor with cognate experience.
“He should not be at the director level. He should be reviewing and maintain services and ensure proper accountability and transparency,” he said.
Mrs Joko Ogundimu from the Lagos State Audit Service Commission said the main function of the Audit Service Commission was human resource management of auditors.
Mrs Ogundimu stated that the government must recruit people with experience in human resource management.
“Office of the Auditor General for Lagos State and Local Government should be Office of Auditor General for Lagos State, Local Government, and Internal Audit.
People in internal audit should have the appropriate experience. The status of the head of Central Internal Audit must also be a Permanent Secretary,” she said.
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