Friends of Democracy, a Civil Society Organisation, says the Audit Bill when passed into law will complement the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government.

The group said this on Thursday in Abuja, at a citizens and media consultative session on the importance of audit in concluding the budget process.

The session was organised by Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn, a UK Department for International Development Programme.

Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe, a member of the organisation, while presenting a communiqué at the end of the session urged the National Assembly to expressly transmit the passed bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

He also said that the president should expressly assent to the Bill when transmitted to him for assent.

He said that presently, there was no audit law for the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation adding that the only relevant statute was the pre-independence Audit Ordnance of 1956.

However, an Audit Bill was passed by NASS in early 2015, but was not assented to by the president.

The Bill was subsequently presented to the present House of Representatives and was passed in late 2015 and in the Senate in March 2018, awaiting transmission to the president.

Ugokwe commended NASS for the passage of the Bill, adding that it was very important as it aims to address the major setbacks of the existing legal frameworks.

He added that CSOs and the media had a crucial role to play in the budget and audit process, yet they were often incapacitated to engage stakeholders due to inadequate information available to them.

He commended Buhari for the fight against corruption and efforts taken so far to strengthen accountability mechanisms in the country.

He also commended the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation for championing key reforms presently being promoted by the office.

The Bill, when passed, will give financial and operational autonomy to the OAuGF, enable provision of additional powers and functions to the office as well as the establishment of the Federal Audit Service Commission.

It would also ensure provision for first line charge for the OAuGF and improve its capacity to perform its role as the primary overseer of public revenues and expenditure and public sector performance.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Bill, if passed will also improve the perception and credibility of the government by the Nigerian public, local and international investors, development partners and substantiate government anti-corruption reforms.

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