FORMER Appeal Court President Justice Isa Ayo Salami yesterday recommended the insulation of the federal and state auditors-general from legislative and executive arms to check incidents of corruption.
The retired jurist also suggested the establishment of Audit Act and Audit Law for the Federal and state auditors general in addition to making provisions for the report of the auditor-general to be considered.
Justice Salami made the recommendation at the national conference and annual general meeting of the Committee of Heads of Internal Audit Departments/Units in Nigerian Universities (CHIADINU) at Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Moro Local Government Area, Kwara State.
He said: “Office of the Auditor General of the Federation and its state counterparts are expected to play key roles in our fight against corruption. The primary functions of these offices at both federal and state levels are to nip corruption in the bud; frustrate commission of the offence before it rears its ugly head. However, some of the offices have failed to perform the roles ascribed to them.
“The main reason for this impression of these institutions is traceable to the Constitution and their respective state and federal enactments as well as dearth of qualified personnel. This challenge is rooted in lack of insulations of the offices from the executive arm of government it is established to audit. By the same token, the internal audit departments of the various universities are not insulated from or independent of the various vice chancellors they are meant to audit.
“The public account committees of the National and state assemblies with our most recent experience may not augur well or be salutary. In their respective stead, I would respectfully suggest establishment of a commission with both the accountant-general and auditor-general as members with a retired auditor-general or reputable or seasoned accountant from private sector as the chairman.”
He raised the alarm over current level of corruption, saying that the country is heading for a doom, if it fails in its continued fight against corruption and corrupt people.
Justice Salami emphasised that Nigeria was at a threshold of monumental disaster, if drastic measures were not taken to “avoid the holocaust” that corruption could bring.
Justice Salami, who said government and individuals should promote culture of high regard for dignity of labour and integrity, said sense of integrity was gradually being eroded from professionalism.
Also delivering a paper on “Fight against corruption: The role of internal auditors”, Auditor General for the Federation Anthony Ayine said that corruption is a major governance challenge in Nigeria.
Ayine, who said that corruption, a global phenomenon, was becoming endemic in Nigeria, added that an estimated $2.6 trillion was stolen through corruption every year- a sum equivalent to more than five per cent of the Global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the United Nations.
“The effects of corruption to the socio-economic and political system of the country and the attendant poverty and misery it imposes on the citizenry have been so depressing over the years. This prompted establishment of institutions like the ICPC, EFCC, code of conduct bureau, bureau of public procurement and others.
“It is however, my strong belief that if the audit function had been operating efficiently and effectively, there would not have been for all these additional anti-corruption agencies,” he said.