Maximize Auditor General’s reports to hold politicians accountable – PLSI tells CSOs, Media 

Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, (PLSI) has urged Civil Society actors and media professionals in Anambra State have been tasked to start using the auditor general’s reports to hold political office holders to account.

Program Officer, Abdulahi Adebayo gave the charge at the end of a one-day capacity building workshop supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, for selected civil society activists and media professionals in Awka, Anambra State.

He said, “One of my expectations from here is to seee how civic actors are collaboratively working with the office of the auditor general and public accounts committee, anti corruption agencies and all key stakeholders within the public audit sector. 

“Audit is the end of Public Finance Management (PFM) cycle and necessary for accountability in governance because it’s a bit easier and cost effective to prevent corruption than to fight it.  

“I look forward to seeing the civil society and media now distilling audit reports of the state and using observations and recommendations therein to engage more citizens to participate and to write investigative reports. 

“This helps people to see how better public finance should be managed to strengthen governance within the state. 

Alsospeaking, Kolade Kolawole, said PLSI’s Value for Money Platform has been helping to engage citizens and civil society organisations to track projects and report irregularities. We do this to foster inclusion and accountability at the national and sub national level.

Kolawole explained that the presentation entitled “Using audit data to track irregularities in government projects/transactions: A Case Study of Value for Money (VFM) Accountability Model, was meant to encourage participants to integrate the use of technology in advocating for accountability especially where audit data is concerned. 

“Also, it is to encourage them to leverage audit data in carrying out their advocacy and in engaging state actors. Using the data on our platform helps in maximizing resources. It reduces the cost of tracking the projects and the stress of traveling back and forth when it comes to submitting petitions to anti graft agencies. 

Kolawole added, “Importantly, we’ve been able to integrate artificial intelligence component on the platform that can help generate petitions using all the audited data we’ve infused on the platform. It takes care of the need for technical expertise in writing petitions. 

In a remark, Anambra State Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Audit/ Convener Consortium on Fiscal Transparency, Ugochi Freeman, said the participants are poised to deploy the knowledge garnered during the workshop. 

“After now, I hope that we are going to swing into action to ensure that public audit process improves. We are going to engage all relevant stakeholders. We need to hold the government accountable to ensure that there’s value for money. 

“PLSI has done marvellously well. Their coming in had opened our eyes to hidden treasure. We will apply the knowledge in the interest of Anambra State,” she said. 

For the Executive Director, Civil Rights Concern, (CRC), Okay Onyeka, the knowledge garnered will further boost the drive for accountability in government. 

“It’s  a very good gathering that discussed about government audit reports and how the public sector failed to meet up with the standards and expectations from them. It’s quite revealing in terms of the data they brought up about the shortcomings of the government sector. 

“It’s also interesting to me that there are civil society groups and media that are interested in the matter and are taking it up. Without really engaging government closely with their data, we may not get any result. 

“We also discovered that there are lot of challenges around government people. So, engaging them with data will also help them to do the bit that they need to do because a lot of things are compromised in the public sector. 

“PLSI has activated a process that will be taken far deeper and longer to really improve service delivery in the state. It’s just started, it must be sustained because if it doesn’t go far, it might not yield the intended outcome,” Onyeka argued. 

Another participant and Executive Director, Social and Integral Development Centre, (SIDEC), Ugochi Ehiahuruike, described the session as an eye opener. “When you talk about audit report, we keep focusing on spending without looking around revenue generation. 

“We have been on tax for service project in Anambra State educating people and encouraging them to pay their taxes, little did we know that some institutions of governments will do deductions without remitting to government coffers. 

“This is like a wake up call for me. We are going to ensure that once taxes for civil servants are deducted, they get straight to government coffers. That stood out for me. 

“As we promote participatory budget process, we should do same for audit. People must get involved especially the civil society because it’s from auditor general’s report that you get to know the performance of the budget,” Ehiahuruike concluded.

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