Olusegun Elemo, Executive Director of PLSI
By Felix Khanoba
A civil society organisation, the Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI), has unveiled the 2020 Sub-National Audit Efficacy (SAE) Index.
The report by PLSI, renowned for fostering public accountability in the public sector, shows that Enugu, Oyo, Sokoto, Plateau, Imo, among few others, appears on the lower rung of the index with least potent audit mechanisms.
Presenting the report during a virtual press briefing on Monday, Executive Director of PLSI, Olusegun Elemo, singled out Delta, Jigawa, Kaduna, Lagos, Niger, and Rivers as states with the most potent audit process in Nigeria.
His words: “SAE index 2020 ranks twelve states including Delta, Jigawa, Kaduna, Lagos, Niger, and Rivers as states with the most potent audit process in Nigeria having scored 70/100.
“Also, Anambra, Borno, Yobe, Katsina and Gombe occupied 13th position with 60/100 as their score while the 2020 index ranked Oyo, Sokoto, Imo, Benue among others 25th with 40% score point and Enugu as state with the least potent audit mechanisms having score 20/100 and ranked 36th.”
While saying the SAE index 2020 is an attempt to forge healthy competition to foster accountability in the management of public resources at sub-national level, Olusegun said states now have the opportunity to optimize their financial management practices and improve on their accountability structures.
“It is disappointing to know that 50per percent of the states including Sokoto, Imo, Osun, Benue, and Anambra do not have modern audit laws that should guarantee independence of the Auditor-General in their states and enhance effective stakeholder involvement in their states’ audit process.
“Some states including Zamfara, Delta, Kano and Edo are however showing progress having enacted modern audit laws and should be encouraged to do more.
“Also, Delta state is among the very few if not the only state that has published an audit report on Covid-19 intervention,” he said.
Speaking further, the PLSI executive director lamented that many states do not have “modern” audit laws, saying that some states still use pre-independence legislations.
Olusegun called for autonomy for both the legislature and judiciary in states in order to enhance robust and transparent public audit systems at sub-national level.
“The lack of independence of the legislative arm of government at sub-national level is a cause for concern and this is evident by the recent call for legislative and judicial autonomy across the 36 states of the federation,” he said.
In a goodwill message, Sam Waldock, Head of Governance, Conflict and Social Development of British High Commission, Abuja, called for strong and independent audit institutions to ensure accountability.
While saying the United Kingdom has thrown its weight behind calls for legislative and judicial independence at sub-national level, Sam expressed concern that about 50percent of states lacked good audit laws and independent oversight of public finances.
He challenged civil society and the media to focus on the issue of accountability in states amid dwindling oil revenue and COVID-19 financial impact to ensure value for money.
On her part, Toyin Akinniyi of Luminate, commended PLSI for its unwavering effort in promoting public accountability in the country.
“Getting public audit right at the subnational level is very important,” Toyin said, even as she pledged the organisation’s support to PLSI.