The Lagos State House of Assembly on Friday said the ongoing amendment to the state Audit Law was being done to enhance probity, accountability and transparency in management of public funds and governance.
The Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, disclosed this at a one-day Public Hearing on: “A Law to Amend the Lagos State Audit Law,” held at Lateef Jakande Hall, Assembly Complex.
Obasa, who noted that governance must be transparent, said the amendment being sought was to bring both state and local governments’ audit departments under the same umbrella.
The speaker, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Sanai Agunbiade, said the envisaged law would assist the Lagos State Government to increase its internal revenue generation profile and serve the people better.
According to him, government money must be prudently spent for the purposes it was meant for.
He said: “The audit department is very important and we must continue to make it functional and effective.
“We are considering a situation where the central internal audit, which is domiciled in Public Finance Management Law before now, will be repealed and brought under the Public Audit Laws.
“We need this to enhance audit system in the state.”
The bill seeks to amend 12 Sections of the law, take it (central internal audit department) to Audit Service Commission and bring all the auditors under one umbrella.
Obasa said the amendment would take the control of Central Internal Audit from the Ministry of Finance.
According to him, the step is to extend the application of the audit law to local government audit commission.
Obasa said the amendment would also take care of little lapses in the law and strengthen audit system in the state to enhance accountability.
Earlier, the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Moshood Oshun, said the amendment became necessary to make the law meet current realities and take Lagos State to a higher height.
According to Oshun, the amendment is to ensure that Lagos State residents get value for their money.
He said the auditors, who acted as the state police, served as checks and balances on the state’s budget.
He said: “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.”
Stakeholders at the meeting took turn to extol the Assembly for the amendment.
The Chairman of the Lagos State Audit Service Commission, Waliu Onibon, however, advised that the Permanent Secretary to be appointed should be a chartered accountant by profession.
According to Onibon, such Permanent Secretary will be in-charge of in-house administration.
He said the Chairman of the Commission should also be a professional accountant with cognate experience.
Also contributing, the State Auditor General, Helen Deile, said both the Chairman of the Audit Service Commission and the Permanent Secretary should be persons who posses public sector audit experience.
According to Deile, the public sector experience is different from private sector experience.
She said the commission would formulate polices, while the audit agencies will implement the policies.
On challenges facing the department, Deile said: “Nobody wants to be audited.
“But by and large because of education, we are not hostile to them, we are now strategic partners to Ministries, Departments and Agencies.”
In his remarks, Humphrey Okorie, the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Internal Auditors, said the state was moving closer to international best practices on auditing.
On the composition of the commission, Okorie advised that it should comprise a chairman and four others with a professional accountant and a professional auditor with 10 years cognate experience.
Okorie advised the House to note a difference between internal auditing and accounting, not minding their relatedness, in the appointment of heads of the commission.
According to him, an experienced auditor and not accountant should be appointed as the Permanent Secretary, as auditing is a specialized field.
He said there should be a Bureau of Internal Audit Services for the effectiveness of governance system and processes.
Okorie said internal auditors ought to be in various agencies to ensure that the necessary systems work.