Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El-Rufai on Tuesday said accountability and transparency should be at the core of governance reforms at all levels.
El-Rufai said at the opening of the 25th Annual Conference of Auditors-General of Local Governments, in Kaduna, with the theme “Attaining Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability through Better Audit Process.”
The governor, who was represented by Finance Commissioner, Alhaji Bashir Saidu described the conference theme as apt, as it seeks to address pressing challenges in the public service to ensure that public resources were properly and judiciously deployed.
According to him, the ongoing reform of the state civil service was to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public resources.
“This concern informed the creation of the office of the Auditor-General, Local-Governments, given the quantum of resources going to the Local Governments as a third tier of government.
“It was considered that requiring the State Auditor-General to audit both State and Local Governments accounts may overstretch that office and may result in inadequate attention being given to the accounts of Local Governments”.
According to him, no matter what is done at the Federal and State levels, unless they are replicated at the Local government levels, a missing link will continuously weaken the chain.
“Kaduna State government is also a keen participant in the World Bank assisted State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
“I am particularly proud to say that Kaduna was adjudged the best in implementing SFTAS, having completed nine out of eleven key performance indicators”.
Speaking on economy, El-Rufai disclosed that his administration has raised the State Internally Generated Revenue from N13 billion in 2015 to N44bn in 2019 without hiking tax rates.
He, however, noted that due to the global health pandemic and economic slowdown, the state goverment is faced with enormous challenges and lean resources.
“There cannot be a better time and a greater need for fiscal transparency and accountability than now,” he added.
The governor prayed that the conference will yield better knowledge, capability and commitment that will ensure and guarantee a better audit process at the local council level.
“It is my sincere wish and prayer that the gains from this year’s conference in Kaduna will be visibly reflected in the improved key performance indicators in governance at our third tier.
“You are all more than equal to the task, I call on you all to remain resolute and firm in carrying out your responsibilities as Auditors-General leading your various staff to attain excellence”.
On his part, the Chairman of the conference, Abel Esievo said the conference would review and share knowledge on emerging trends in auditing and accounting for the betterment of the profession.
Esievo said the conference was also meant to address challenges of the profession, noting that the Coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to access auditees and their records.
The chairman, however, commended the push given by the Nigeria Governors Forum which ensured timely rendition of audit reports to both arms of government and stakeholders.
He said the added impetus by the Governors have gone a long way in pushing the various Local Government audit offices to meet targets as enumerated in the Disbursement
Linked Indicators of the World Bank.
According to him, the review will further enhance accountability and probity in public financial management especially at the Local Government level.
“We as a body have been in the forefront in the enthronement of a culture of accountability and the introduction of modern audit techniques and applications in the accomplishment of our various tasks”.
Esievo encouraged various Local Government functionaries to always ensure prompt rendition of financial statements.
He reiterated their total support to the fight against corruption in the country by providing quality audit services to various auditees and stakeholders.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Maharazu Ahmed