By Folarin Emmanuel, Abuja
Bukola Saraki, Senate President, has called on Auditors-General in the country, particularly at the Local Government level, to partner with the Senate in its current effort to block financial leakages and ensure that maximum revenue accrues to government at all levels in the Federation.
A statement by Sanni Onogu, his Chief Press Secretary, said Saraki gave the charge when the national executive of the Conference of the Auditors-General for Local Governments in Nigeria, led by Reuben Osita Nwosu, its National Chairman, visited him at the National Assembly, Abuja.
He noted that the visit was apt by coming at a time the 8th Senate is intensifying efforts to enhance government’s non-oil revenue through thorough scrutinization of revenue generation activities in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and demanding accountability and transparency in their operations.
“I want to urge the Conference of the Auditors General for Local Governments in Nigeria to join hands with the Senate in ensuring that governments at all levels get all the revenues that are due to them,” Saraki stated.
He noted the concerns of the association regarding granting autonomy to the offices of the Auditors General throughout the federation by amending the Constitution to strengthen their capacity to carry out their legitimate functions.
Saraki said: “In fact, one of the amendments we have carried out on the Constitution is financial autonomy to Local Governments and I am sure that will go a long way in helping them to have a more transparent and accountable finance system.
“I totally agree with you that in doing that we must also strengthen the autonomy of the Auditors-General because since we are giving those kind of responsibilities to local governments.
“It is necessary that we support that with the necessary tools that will ensure that they are effective because if you don’t do that, the capacity at the local governments with those kind of responsibilities will be defeated,” he said.
Earlier, Reuben Osita Nwosu, National Chairman of Auditors-General for Local Governments in Nigeria, said that the country cannot entrench accountability and transparency in the public service without guaranteed autonomy through administrative and financial independence for Auditors-General at the three tiers of government.
Nwosu who is the Auditor General for Local Governments in Imo State, said: “At the Local Government level with the granting of financial autonomy to the Local Government Councils, there arose a greater need to strengthen the capacity of the office of Auditors-General for Local Governments.
“Financial autonomy to the Local Government Councils without granting autonomy through administrative and financial independence to the Auditors-General for Local Governments would be counter productive,” he stated.
He said that the association was excited at the progress made so far in the amendment of the Constitution by the National Assembly adding that the “exercise would greatly remove all Constitutional impediments on the granting of autonomy through financial and administrative independence to the Office of the Auditors-General at the Federal, State and Local Governments in the country.”