Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta says forensic and investigative audit is the effective weapon against corruption because of its capacity to streamline public sector accountability mechanism.
Okowa made this known in Asaba on Tuesday while declaring open the 23rd Annual Conference of the Auditors-General for Local Governments in the Federation.
According to him, specifically, forensic and investigative audit can easily ferret out instances of financial mismanagement leading to corruption, asset misappropriation and financial statement fraud.
He said: “The overall purpose is to ensure that public money is spent wisely while assessing the adequacy of an organisation’s compliance with rules and regulations.”
Okowa, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Water Resources, Fidelis Tilije, noted that Delta had also adopted the International Public Sector Accounting Standard platform as well as domesticated the National Charter of Accounts.
The governor said that the process had helped to promote greater efficiency and enhanced proactivity of the audit process in the state.
According to him, the administration has also sent an Audit Bill to the State House of Assembly and the Bill seeks to strengthen the functions of Auditors-General as well as enhance audit autonomy in the state.
He said: “We have also created an Efficiency Unit in the state Ministry of Economic Planning and these are but few steps to improve the audit and accountability process; ensure sound health in our finances; and engender good governance in the state.”
The theme of the conference was: “The Application of Forensic and Investigative Audit in Public Financial Management of Local Government Councils: the Role of Auditors-General’’.
Okowa noted that the role of Auditor-General had never been more pressing and needful “as it is today”.
In his speech, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, urged Auditors-General to embark on aggressive management and capacity development programmes to provide them with distinct skills required to carry out forensic audit.
Ayine said: “This will involve office-wide training of all qualified or selected officers in the new skills, to ensure individual and corporate capacity.
“Without highly-qualified and committed staff, the vision will remain but a pipe dream.”
He called on auditors to remodel their style of reporting in order to reflect and convey the complex accounting issues and processes in a simplified form that others, especially the general public, could understand the evidence and implications.
He said: “Staff re-orientation is another key area of attention. It is very important to change the current mindset of the workforce.”
In his remarks, the Chairman of Auditors-General of the Federation, Osita Nwosu, noted that the fight against corruption and financial fraud could not be achieved without forensic and investigative auditors with appropriate skills.
Nwosu said that the auditors should have the capacity and competence to carry out the onerous task through forensic and digital examination of the public sector financial processes.
He said: “No doubt effective and efficient public financial management process in local government system is critical in combating corruption, alleviating poverty, guaranteeing good governance, ensuring accountability and promoting transparency.”
Nwosu, therefore, suggested adequate funding of Auditors-General to effectively carry out their duties.